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The Role & Responsibilities of a Special Needs Trustee

Eric H. Light, P.A. March 3, 2022

two people shaking handParents have a responsibility to cater to the needs of their children, regardless of the child’s physical or mental condition. If you have a child with special needs, you can protect their financial future and leave assets behind for them through a special needs trust. You may need to choose a trusted person to manage assets placed in the special needs trust on the beneficiary's behalf. A knowledgeable Florida estate planning attorney can enlighten you about the duties and responsibilities of a special needs trustee and explore your possible legal options.

As your legal counsel, I can help you understand the benefits of a special needs trust and how to create one. We can discuss the roles and responsibilities of a special needs trustee so you make informed decisions when choosing one. My firm, Eric H. Light, P.A., proudly serves clients across Boca Raton, Florida.

What Is a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is a fiduciary relationship and legal arrangement that allows an incapacitated, disabled, or chronically-ill person to receive supplementary income without affecting their eligibility for government benefits and other public disability benefits. This will help improve the person's quality of life and maximize available resources for them.

The Benefits of a Special Needs Trust

Here are some of the benefits of a special needs trust:

  • To set aside assets to support the individual's needs

  • To preserve eligibility for Medicaid (which pays for food, shelter, and medical care)

  • To preserve family wealth

  • To protect property and assets from creditors or property division in a divorce

  • To preserve eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (government benefits for people with disabilities)

You can appoint a successor trustee to manage assets, finances, and investments placed in the trust. An experienced attorney can enlighten you about the roles and responsibilities of a special needs trustee and how to choose one.

Special Needs Trustee's Role

A special needs trustee is a person named by the trustor who manages the money and assets placed in the special needs trust for the benefit of the beneficiary. Here are some of the expected duties, rights, and responsibilities of the special needs trustee:

  • Spend money wisely to improve the trust beneficiary's life.

  • Cater to the beneficiary's personal needs that aren't covered by Medicaid or SSI.

  • Communicate with the trust beneficiary, their caregivers, and other persons involved in their life.

  • Help the trust beneficiary comply with the rules and requirements for Medicaid, SSI income, and other resources.

  • Invest and manage trust property appropriately and in accordance with the applicable state laws.

  • Find out about the needs and welfare of the trust beneficiary.

  • Update the trust beneficiary and other interested persons regularly regarding trust activities.

  • Keep accurate and well-detailed records about trust activities.

  • File the required state and federal tax returns.

  • Work together with the family members, social workers, teachers, or other professionals who provide support services for the trust beneficiary.

  • Manage or distribute trust assets after the beneficiary dies.

A knowledgeable lawyer can enlighten you about the special needs trustee's roles and responsibilities and help you make intelligent decisions when choosing a trustee.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Establishing a special needs trust makes it possible for you to leave your assets, real property, and money for your child with special needs without affecting their eligibility to receive government benefits. Most importantly, choosing a reliable trustee can give you the needed peace of mind that your child's bequests are in dependable and trustworthy hands. Therefore, when choosing a special needs trustee, consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial for detailed guidance and to help you navigate crucial decisions.

For nearly 20 years, I’ve devoted my career to assisting and guiding individuals, families, and fiduciaries in the legal matters of estate planning and special needs trusts. As your legal counsel, I will review your personal situation, explore your available legal options, and determine an ideal estate plan that fits your unique needs.

Contact Eric H. Light, P.A. today to schedule a simple consultation with an experienced special needs trust lawyer. I can offer you the detailed legal counsel and reliable advocacy you need to make informed decisions. My firm is proud to serve clients in and around Boca Raton, Florida.