When it comes to personal injury settlements, even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be quickly depleted by mounting medical bills, the cost of ongoing care, or poor financial planning. Even worse, access to needs-based government benefits (e.g., Medicaid, SSI) can be compromised if a claimant’s assets rise above eligibility thresholds.
A special needs trust (SNT) offers a solution for injured claimants who need to maintain needs-based benefit eligibility. An SNT provides access to the settlement funds for approved distributions while concurrently allowing the beneficiary to continue receiving vital needs-based benefits. In other words, an SNT can directly impact a disabled individual’s long-term quality of life.
How an Administrator Can Help
A special needs trust administrator is instrumental in managing the trust effectively and compliantly. Their role goes beyond routine fund management — they ensure that the beneficiaries maximize their benefits while preserving their eligibility for needs-based programs. They navigate complex rules and regulations, make informed decisions regarding distributions, and protect the trust from potential legal and financial pitfalls.
Services provided by a special needs trust administration firms include:
- Disbursement Management: They oversee and authorize disbursements, ensuring that each distribution aligns with the trust's guidelines and doesn't compromise government benefit eligibility.
- Investment Oversight: These firms monitor and manage the trust's investments to optimize growth and financial stability.
- Record Keeping: They maintain comprehensive and accurate records of all financial transactions related to the trust.
- Tax Reporting: They handle all necessary tax reporting and filing associated with the trust.
- Legal Consultation: They consult with legal professionals to ensure the trust complies with all local, state, and federal laws.
- Beneficiary Advocacy: They serve as an advocate for the beneficiary, coordinating with service providers, and navigating the bureaucracy of public benefits.
- Regular Communication: They maintain open lines of communication with the beneficiaries, providing updates and answering queries about the trust.
Streamline the Process from Start to Finish
Skilled and thorough advising is critical for protecting the claimant and the law firm. Considerations range from current and future medical needs to anticipated loss of earnings, access to needs-based benefits, and future plans (e.g., college tuition, home purchase, etc.). If a claimant is not properly informed of all settlement options or if a trust is set up incorrectly, the law firm may face negative implications.
ARCHER works closely with a national network of experienced settlement planners, trust companies, and elder law attorneys to ensure a comprehensive, individualized, lawful approach. We act as the nexus of the trust process, coordinating efforts to efficiently resolve the settlement and establish the special needs trust.