It Takes a Team (for Special Needs Planning)

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Parents and care-givers for disabled persons in the Special Needs Planning area oft-times act with surprise when we begin to discuss the complexities in the process.  I understand that so many of these providers simply take care of the disabled person out of love and affection with no thought to the scope of services and care they provide.  We walk through the details of daily routines from personal hygiene to meal preparation and feeding; from transportation to hobbies and interests of the disabled person; from laundry to shopping, from medications to self-sufficiency, and all issues which regularly arise.  We then discuss finances, medical insurance, government programs, and anticipated future needs.  We also dive into the human side of the disabled person to gain an understanding of values such as the importance of family, religion, and other pieces of the fabric of life held dear by the disabled person and their family.  

So many of these issues are already woven in the daily life of the disabled person and care givers.  But what happens when the parents and care givers are no longer able or available to provide the care?  Then it takes a team.  After these conversations, the parents begin to realize that the proper team needs to be put in place.  

The essential team for a Special Needs Trust consists of the Trustee, a Trust Advisor/Trust Protector, and the beneficiary’s Advocate.  Quite often, additional positions such as an Investment Trustee and Care Manager are added to the team.  Of course, there is the financial side where the Trustee and Investment Trustee come into to play to ensure that proper and complete assets are provided for the needs of the beneficiary (without undermining government benefits).  The Trustee further ensures that care and resources are properly in place and available for the beneficiary.

The Trust Advisor or Trust Protector holds few, but critical powers, to be able to change the direction and focus of the trust as required for the beneficiary.  The Trust Protector ensures that the Trustee’s core obligations are fulfilled.  The Trust Protector is not there to second guess the judgment calls of the Trustee, but take actions up to and including removal of a Trustee under defined circumstances.  

The beneficiary’s Advocate is the position always in the corner of the beneficiary and, quite often, the voice of the beneficiary.  The sole charge is to express the specific needs of the beneficiary to ensure that they are fully considered.  A Care Manager may arrange for the services and care for the disabled person as well as providing critical insights into the on-going needs of the beneficiary.  

The responsibilities and obligations of each position can be detailed and carefully drafted to provide the greatest opportunity for the beneficiary to succeed to the fullest potential.  It takes a team to address these varied and diverse of needs.  For assistance with these Special Needs Planning issues, contact Michael Geiger at Geiger Law.

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