Question: What Happens If I Can No Longer Serve as Trustee Of My Child’s Special Needs Trust?

Thanks to medical advancements and improvements, the life expectancy for individuals with special needs is longer than ever. While these advancements are wonderful for people with disabilities, it also presents a concern for parents who may be afraid that they will not be able to properly oversee their child’s care as they grow old or experience healthcare challenges of their own.

Fortunately, a legal tool called a Special Needs Trust is designed to address these concerns and ensure a smooth transition of caregivers if and when the time comes.  A Special Needs Trust is a legal tool that is designed to hold assets for the child with special needs without jeopardizing eligibility for public benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  Most of the time, a parent will serve as the trustee of the child’s Special Needs Trust who oversees his or her funds.

If the time comes that the trustee (parent) feels he or she can no longer serve in this capacity, maybe following a serious healthcare diagnosis, the trust should already have the terms of any future transition laid out in the document;  for example, a successor trustee should already be named in the trust who can step in and take over the role.

Of course, parents are not required to serve as the trustee of their child’s Special Needs Trust, but knowing that the role can be changed or relinquished at any time can provide peace of mind for those who may be hesitant about stepping into such a large responsibility as they grow older.

Remember, when it comes to Special Needs Planning, every family’s needs and goals are unique. The most important thing you can do is have open and honest conversations with your attorney about your wishes for the future, and any concerns you may have about your adult child’s care.  Your special needs planning attorney can help ensure that you have the right plans in place to provide any flexibility that’s necessary for the family, while also ensuring that the child has a framework that will ensure a lifetime of care.