Can you identify that one person who is an expert in disability law, housing, medicine, social work and knows all the members of your family and how they interact with each other? If you can, then they are the natural choice to serve as trustee of any Special Needs Trust (SNT) that you might set up for a family member with disabilities. If, on the other hand, you can’t identify that one person who knows all there is to know about caring for a person with special needs, you might consider a care committee to assist the trustee.
Every SNT needs a trustee to manage the trust’s assets for the benefit of the disabled person. An SNT gives the trustee very broad authority to use the funds in whatever way they think will best help the trust beneficiary, given their current and future needs and other resources.
Since the trustee can’t always know everything about the beneficiary’s care and needs, a formal advisory ‘care committee’ can be created when the trust is established. A care committee is typically a small group of individuals who each have a deep understanding of some aspect of the beneficiary’s needs. The committee may be made up of caregivers, doctors, social workers, family members, lawyers and other advocates for the disabled person. Based on their particular expertise, committee members can advise the trustee in making difficult decisions, and the best way to utilize trust assets, though the trustee usually retains the final authority over the trust and its assets.
Not every Special Needs Trust calls for a care committee, but if you’re interested in learning more, your special needs planning attorney will be happy to discuss it with you.