Having an adult child who has special needs often requires planning for the future. After all, your child’s condition may make it exceedingly difficult both to work and to pay for living expenses. If you are thinking about using your estate plan to provide for your son or daughter, you may want to set up a supplemental needs trust.
As New York City’s Department of Social Services notes, a supplemental needs trust preserves your child’s eligibility for means-tested government benefits while giving him or her funds for expenses public benefits typically do not cover.
The supplemental needs trustee
When you form a supplemental needs trust, you must name a person to administer it. This individual may be a professional trustee, such as a financial adviser, or a layperson. Either way, the supplemental needs trustee must perform a host of tasks.
The trustee’s job description
To be effective, a supplemental needs trustee must perform all the same duties as any other type of trustee. These include keeping records, reporting taxes, investing funds, approving disbursements and communicating with the trust’s beneficiaries. A supplemental needs trustee’s job duties do not end there, however.
Your supplemental needs trustee likely must also perform the following tasks:
- Check on your child to be certain he or she has access to essential services
- Ensure your son or daughter does not become ineligible for means-tested benefits
- Report to the government agencies that administer benefits
Because the supplemental needs trustee must have the right knowledge and personality to do the job, it may take some time to find the perfect trustee. Ultimately, if you find your trustee is not equal to the task, you may need to find a different one during your lifetime.