Frequently clients realize that a supplemental needs trust is operated by a trustee. Trustees fulfill many responsibilities. They act as investment manager, bookkeeper, distribution manager, benefits advocate, and financial planner. Trustees are in constant contact with the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s caregivers regarding many aspects of the beneficiary’s life such as approving 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 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 general, the answer is no.
UNDERSTAND THE TRUSTEE’S DUTIES OF CARE PLANNING
While a trustee is very involved in making distributions from the trust and administering it, the trustee’s duties do not extend to day-to-day decisions that need to be made involving the management of the beneficiary’s care and placement. These decisions are typically assumed by a parent (or both parents), a close family member, or a guardian of the beneficiary who is acting as the beneficiary’s care manager.
The reason that these decisions are not taken on by trustees, is that while a trustee may have had the opportunity to get to know a beneficiary well, the family members of the beneficiary typically know how best to serve the beneficiary’s needs. It is also true that a trustee might be chosen because of his or her ability to manage money and make sound financial decisions, but they would not know how to evaluate the ongoing needs of the beneficiary, locate benefits available to them, coordinate service providers or evaluate his or her overall well-being. For this reason, it is important to include a care manager in your plan for the beneficiary’s entire lifetime.
At Pierro, Connor & Associates, we have identified and met a critical need of our clients by incorporating care managers into our planning. Our firm has created EverHome Care Advisors as a care manager service to provide support and coordination for our clients and their families. EverHome ensures clients receive appropriate care with a quality of life he or she desires, locates appropriate public and private resources for their care and offers peace of mind by preserving family assets.
If you are interested in care manager services for you or your loved one, please call us today at (518) 459-2100 or at (844) 633-3852 (844-NEED-TLC).