Pooled Special Needs Trusts

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    Our family recently settled in the Frederick area.  But, our adult autistic son, David, has a Special Needs Trust from Illinois prepared by Brian Rubin — a highly regarded attorney.  Most folks know that a Special Needs Trust is created to benefit a single client.

    We are re-evaluating our situation.  The weak link in the process (for us, and I believe for many others) is pre-selecting Trustees and establishing a reliable succession model if the preferred Trustees are not able to perform their duties at the time that the Trust is established. Though David’s older brother is stable in his chosen career, he lives in Seattle.  I am also reluctant to assign so much responsibility for David’s extended care to his brother.  That is, I would rather his older brother participate as part of a larger group of people who are in a better position to assist.  We could attempt to select professionals in advance, but also I see the need for a larger entity that would provide continuity.

    We are currently exploring alternatives to a Special Needs Trust.  One option is a Pooled Special Needs Trust — serving the needs of more than one client, each having separate accounts.  I’m aware of several in this area.  One in DC manages about $60 million in assets for their special needs clients. Another PSNT in VA was recently designated as Legal Guardian.  The intended benefit is having friends and family along with extended care, investment, and legal professionals serving together in an oversight capacity on a board.  The cost in retaining quality board members is shared, in this case.

    The other issue is property.  We would like to build a home for David (and perhaps an eventual roommate or two), but would like to have the means to hold and to manage the property for his use.  For this reason, I’m also exploring the possibility of partnering with a long established financial company and a local legal firm, perhaps to create a new PSNT that would also help to manage housing assets.

    My apologies for such a long introduction.  I hope to find others interested in this topic for further discussion.



    Desiree Kameka

    Just posted on our Facebook page, hopefully you get a few responses. Also, I just spoke to several hundred attorneys who are part of a nation-wide network called the Special Needs Alliance. There website pulls up these resources that may give you more perspectives: https://www.specialneedsalliance.org/search/?q=pooled#/


    I wouldn’t be too intimidated by the responsibilities of having your son as trustee even from a distance. A lot of the tasks of a trustee he would delegate and higher those specific advisors – investment, legal, tax, government benefits, etc. Your personal 3rd party SNT would be a much more efficient vehicle especially for transferring assets to future generations of your family.

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