Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo Logo

The California Special Needs Trust Trustee

12/22/2022 | Special Needs Trust
The California Special Needs Trust Trustee

When someone has a significant disability and requires government program assistance to meet their basic living needs these benefits are rarely enough to afford them more than a basic quality of life. This is because these programs provide just enough to cover some medical and living expenses but restrict the recipient to meager personal income and assets. Having a California special needs trust in place in this situation can be the difference between your loved one barely surviving and having what they truly need. Like all trust, a California special needs trust will be managed by a named trustee who will have critical responsibilities.

Deciding on a Trustee

One of the most important decisions in creating a special needs trust is deciding on the right person or institution to serve as trustee. Ordinarily, a trustee will be tasked with managing the day-to-day operations of the trust, including safeguarding trust assets, making investment decisions, and distributing payment for the beneficiary. Being a California special needs trustee can be a complicated and time-consuming and generally requires that the individual is organized and experienced with making financial decisions. In some cases, the trustee will be a family member, and in others, a fiduciary such as a bank or other institution may be a better solution.

Government Program Knowledge

Unlike an ordinary trust, a California special needs trust is usually for an individual who is reliant on Medi-Cal, Social Security Income, and other government programs. These benefits are income-sensitive, and one wrong financial move could result in the beneficiary losing them. Therefore, having a trustee who has a detailed understanding of these programs and how to manage and distribute funds from the trust in compliance with their rules is vital.

Trustee Responsibilities

All trustees have investment obligations and must keep accurate records of accounting and trust activities. To the extent possible, the trustee must communicate with the beneficiary and file taxes on behalf of the trust. The trustee will be responsible for making distribution decisions for the beneficiary while taking his or her present and future into consideration.

A California special needs trust trustee has all of the accountabilities of an ordinary trustee but also has additional responsibilities which pertain to the individual’s disabilities. Due to the nature of the beneficiary’s condition, the special needs trustee need to check on the recipient and his or her welfare. The trustee must also be aware of the public benefit requirements and report information to the benefit agencies. Additionally, the trustee will often need to collaborate with other individuals and organizations to support the beneficiary’s care and well-being.

Understanding the role of the California special needs trust trustee is essential in making sure your loved one’s interest is in the right hands. At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we have the experience creating California special needs trust and assisting clients in choosing the right trustee. Please contact us to schedule a free consultation today so we can help you explore your options and start your solution.