Choosing the right trustee for any trust is a difficult and extremely important decision. In the case of choosing the right trustee for the trust you have created to protect your loved one with special needs, the decision is even more important—particularly if your loved one is a young child. Let's take a look at some of the options and discuss the pros and cons of each. If you would like more advice and help with setting up a Special Needs Trust, please call Santa Barbara Estate Planning and Elder Law today at (805)946-1550.
Many couples consider this first. After all, your parents know and love your children, and understand your wishes. However, this is only a temporary solution, as your special needs trust must protect your loved one with special needs for his or her entire lifetime.
Like your parents, this may be a good temporary solution. But the same drawback applies here as well. Your siblings are unlikely to outlast the trust itself, and you will need a successor trustee.
Your Other Children
This option seems logical to many couples because their children know one another well and are roughly the same age. However, you must consider a number of factors with this option. First, the role of trustee is a difficult one, fraught with potential liability. Do your other children have the time and capacity to serve as trustee? Then you need to consider the dynamics of your family. Should all of your children be named as co-trustees, or should only one of them be named as sole trustee, and how will this impact the relationship between family members. That is, will you be perceived as “playing favorites?”
A Bank or Trust Company
Most banks, brokerage houses and trust companies will only accept large trusts, ranging from a minimum of $300,000 to more than $1,000,000. Many will not accept special needs trusts at all. However, if you have a special needs trust that meets the institution's minimum requirements, and the institution's trust department has an outstanding reputation, this may be a long-term option worth considering.
As you can see, there are a variety of options, each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes, the best choice is a combination of one or more options. We are here to guide you through the various options and help you choose the trustee, or combination of temporary trustee and successor trustee, best suited to your particular situation and needs. We at Santa Barbara Estate Planning can help you find the best choice for you and your family. Please call to schedule a consultation at your earliest convenience using our office number: (805)946-1550.