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Advice for Choosing a Special Needs Trustee


There are many options when it comes to choosing who will manage a special needs trust. Some of these include trust departments of banks, legal, counsel, professional fiduciaries, non-profit corporations, family members and close friends. It is important to note that special needs trusts are subject to frequent changes in policies regarding distribution and require hard, time-consuming work from the trustee. For these reasons, the trustee for the special needs trust you are concerned with must be responsible, professional, and able to act in the best interest of the beneficiary.

Family members, though well-meaning, are often inexperienced or too busy and might not be the best choice. It can be quite risky to have a trustee with the potential to make mistakes unless they seek professional guidance when it comes to trust handling and distribution.

If the trust is large, banks may compete to serve as trustee. This sometimes will present reduced fiduciary fees charged by an institution to act as trustee. Banks and life insurance companies may market themselves to special needs planners, and between the two, banks tend to provide more available customer service. At the same time, transferring a trust away from a bank to a different trustee can be difficult, should disagreement arise.

Another option is a non-profit organization that specializes in special needs trust administration. Some services may be offered through grant programs where the non-profit may serve as a trustee or be able to direct the family to other organizations that can administrate the trust.

Always remember, the most important element in choosing a trustee is that the best interest of the beneficiary is always the number one priority for whoever is chosen.

Read more about who should manage a special needs trust.

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