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By: Sipi Gupta | August 30, 2019

Serving as a trustee requires administrative and technical skills in addition to strong interpersonal communication skills. Identifying the appropriate trustee is difficult in general; a Special Needs Trust (SNT) presents additional challenges. While most families will name a relative to serve as the trustee of their family’s SNT, they are often unaware of the specialized knowledge needed to succeed in the role. In many cases, it makes sense to have a family member involved in some capacity in the care of the individual with special needs. Another option is to select a professional trustee with specialized skills to serve as the trustee or co-trustee.

Ideal Qualities for a Trustee

In considering trustees to name for your SNT, evaluate your al...

By: Sipi Gupta | May 25, 2017

Trustees of special needs trusts wear many hats. They act as investment manager, bookkeeper, distribution manager, benefits advocate, and financial planner. Often trustees are in constant communication with the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s caregivers regarding many aspects of the beneficiary’s life such as approving distributions for the purchase of a vehicle or even the purchase of a home.

This level of involvement can be confusing for beneficiaries and their families, who may be under the impression that the trustee has the decision-making power in all aspects of a beneficiary’s life. If a trustee can approve or reject the proposed purchase price of a home for the beneficiary, can’t they also decide where the beneficiary lives? In gen...

By: Sipi Gupta | May 01, 2017

Yes, but be aware that a co-trustee can be held responsible for another co-trustee’s breach of a fiduciary duty. Thus, it is important that all co-trustees pay close attention to everything that is done in the administration of the trust. If there is any question or problem, it should be communicated to the other co-trustee or co-trustees immediately. As a general rule, where there are two or more co-trustees, all have to agree on all matters of trust administration. However, the trust document may create a different standard for agreement, such as majority rule. In order to minimize the chances of being held responsible for someone else’s poor judgment or breach of duty, a co-trustee should be sure to make a written record of any points of...