A special needs trust, also called a “discretionary trust”, is created to benefit a child or adult who is not capable of taking care of his or her own financial, health or other needs. The adult may suffer a mental handicap, physical handicap or be frail in old age.
These trusts tend to last for many years. A bank trust officer or private fiduciary may be chosen as trustee or you may choose to have co-fiduciaries, such as a family member who knows the beneficiary well, and a bank officer who has more financial savvy. Private fiduciaries need not be affiliated with an institution, but they do need a license. You may also elect to have an advisory council in addition to the trustee. Compensation to the trustee is arranged in advance, as an hourly rate or otherwise.
The trustee has discretion as to disbursements. Importantly, he or she must ensure that disbursements do not disqualify the beneficiary from continued government benefits the beneficiary may receive. If funds available to the beneficiary rise to a certain level, he will be disqualified. However, the basic goal is quality-of-life of the beneficiary.
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