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Best Practices for Special Needs Trust Administration . Law Firm Trust Department with Attorney Acting as Trustee. Advantages for the beneficiary. You know special needs planning, public benefits, and distribution rules.

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Best Practices for Special Needs Trust Administration

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best practices for special needs trust administration

Best Practices for Special Needs Trust Administration

Law Firm Trust Departmentwith Attorney Acting as Trustee

advantages for the beneficiary
Advantages for the beneficiary
  • You know special needs planning, public benefits, and distribution rules.
  • You are a neutral party; family members do not have to stand between the money and another family member.
  • You have resources available to you that most family members and financial institutions lack, e.g. variety of investment options, access to home improvement contractors and the like.
advantages for your practice
Advantages for your practice
  • Keeps you up to date on special needs planning; you must stay current with the law.
  • Gives you a consistent source of revenue.
  • Expands the scope of your practice; it’s not

just an advising practice any more.

  • Creates stronger connections with financial and investment advisors who may refer additional clients to your practice.
any disadvantages
Any Disadvantages?
  • The annoyed beneficiary: often

not very happy to have someone

else managing his or her money.

Just give me all of the money-

who cares about the benefits.

  • You are not practicing law;

rather you are now a trustee and

cannot charge attorney fees for

your trustee work.

preliminary decisions court jurisdiction investment advisors
Preliminary Decisions: Court Jurisdiction, Investment Advisors
  • Will you be under the jurisdiction of any court?
  • Will you only accept SNT with court


  • Will you need to be bonded? Will the trust account be restricted? Does your malpractice and liability insurance cover this activity?
  • Almost always hire investment advisors unless it’s a really small trust.
a special needs trust department let s get started
A Special Needs Trust DepartmentLet’s Get Started

Where will the trust beneficiaries come from?

  • Clients: parents, grandparents, individuals with disabilities
  • Disability organizations, settlement attorneys, i.e. personal injury, workers’ compensation
  • Bank trust departments - often want to shed small trusts
  • Networking and marketing
snt department organizing and developing it
SNT Department- Organizing and Developing It
  • Organizing: Develop job descriptions and be ready to add staff such as a Trust Administrator, an Assistant Trust Administrator & a Bookkeeper. Create lines of reporting.
  • See Assistant Trust Administrator job description example



2014 Job Description: Assistant Trust Administrator EXH. A

Summary: Manages and administers a portfolio of trust accounts primarily for special needs beneficiaries.

Major responsibilities include developing and maintaining beneficiary relationships, administering the trust,

preparing reports, making distributions including working with legal and financial documents.

Qualifications: Associate’s degree in business, with accounting courses, 2 years experience in customer service in an accounting setting such as a bank or trust company.

Duties and Responsibilities: Performs a wide variety of trust administration activities to support our special needs beneficiaries; here is a sample list:

  • Client Relations – Establishes and maintains on-going relationships with beneficiaries, developing a healthy working
  • relationship and building trust. Deals with beneficiaries daily on expenditure and other requests.
  • Bill Payment - Receives and processes invoices for payment of routine and extraordinary expenses including data entry. This may also include the coordination of purchases with vendors on behalf of the beneficiary.
  • Insurance Policies - Places and maintains insurance policies for the trust and trust beneficiaries including processing renewal applications.
  • Payroll Processing - Oversees the payroll process for contract employees and caregivers. Approves and forwards time sheets for processing.
  • Reporting – Reviews and approves trust reports prepared by the bookkeeper while supporting the probate accounting process.
  • Problem Solving – Proactively anticipates and resolves issues quickly.
  • Process Improvement – Makes recommendations to improve processes that will increase the service quality, efficiency and responsiveness to our beneficiaries.
  • Technology – Provides technology expertise within the Trust department regarding data downloads, interfaces with financial institutions and the use of other applications.
  • Client Files - Works daily within the PC Law application to reference file activity and enter information to the digital file.
  • Other Duties – Performs other duties as assigned including scanning documents into an electronic system.
the snt department development
The SNT Department - Development
  • Create checklists – EXH. B & C
  • Ticklers – EXH. D
  • Personal care plans for different beneficiaries – EXH. E
  • Fee schedules – EXH. F
  • Budget planning spreadsheets for the beneficiary

– EXH. G

  • Checklists
    • Benefits checklist, EXH. B. 1-5
    • Establish new SNT, EXH. C
  • Ticklers
    • On-going activities, EXH D
  • Personal Care Plans EXH. E. 1-3
  • Fee schedules EXH. F. 1-2
  • Budgeting EXH. G. 1-2
    • Create an annual budget.

DATE: Benefits Checklist EXH. B. 1 of 5




Physical Address:

Own Rent Live with Family Other

Phone: Cell: Email:


Single Married Divorced Widowed

Drivers License/ID #: State: Expires:

Conservator/Guardian Phone:

Home Health Agency/Aides/Adult Daycare



Services and hours:


Other relevant contact/care information:


POA Agent(s):

HCD: Agent(s):





EXH B. 2 of 5

SS Retirement $ Where Deposited:

Representative Payee (if applicable):

SSI: $      Where Deposited:      

Representative Payee (if applicable):      

SSDI: $      Where Deposited:      

Representative Payee (if applicable):      

State Supplement: (Cash Assistance) income under $2,022 assets under $1,600/$2,400

Amount: Client ID #

Case Worker Contact:

Representative Payee (if applicable):

Pension: $ Employer :

Payee (if other than self):

Payor Contact Info.:

Workers Compensation:

Unemployment Income:

Employment Income:

Trust: $ per month Total trust assets: $

Name of Trust:



Comments: (i.e. for excess assets or income, if income, how much and how often. What are assets used for?

Income for Benefits Calculations:

Applied Income: $ Payable to:

Diverted Income: $ Where diverted (ex. PLAN)

Any Diversion to community spouse:



Programs: EXH. B. 3 of 5

Medicare A&B Medicare #:      Premium $     

Effective date A: Effective date B:

Medicare Part D Medicare #: Premium $

Effective date: Provider:

Medicare Extra Help (lowers co-pays for Part D to $2.60 generic and $6.50 brand name)

HICN: Effective:

MediGap Policy Premium $     

Policy Number# Company:

Medicare D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS): T-19, SSI, QMB, SLMB automatically get subsidy Client ID #

Case Worker: Phone:

ConnPACE: only eligible for ConnPACE if you are not eligible for Medicare

Client ID # Effective Date:

Case Worker: Phone:

ConnMap (Ct Medicare Assignment Program)

Client ID #       Effective Date:      

Case Worker:       Phone:     

Qualified Medicare Savings Plan



Client ID #

Case Worker:

Other Health Insurance:

Employed Disabled Program:

Medicaid or State/Waiver Programs (ex. T19, PCA Waiver, LIA, Husky, Wise, Pilots, etc.) Program:

Client ID # Effective date:

Case Worker Contact:


DDS Services

Program: effective date: EXH B. 4 of 5

Client ID #

Case Worker:

DHMAS Services

Program:       effective date:      

Client ID #      

Case Worker:      

Any Prior State or Medicaid Assistance

SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)

Amount: $

Client ID #

Case Worker:

Contingency Heating Assistance Program (CHAP)

Income Limit: Household of 1=$2,642.66 Asset Limit: $10,000 liquid owner $7,000 renter

Higher Income limit for more in Household.

Benefit: $100 a year

Amount: $     

Client ID #      

Case Worker:      

Fuel Assistance (CEAP) - must be homeowner or renter

Income Limit: Household of 1 (over 60 or disabled)=$1,805 Asset Limit: $10,000 liquid owner $7,000 renter

Higher Income limit for more in Household.

Benefit: vulnerable homeowner: $255 per year

Invulnerable homeowner: $220 per year

Renter: $10 to $20 per year.

Amount: $     

Client ID #      

Case Worker:      

Homeowners’ Tax Relief Program (Circuit Breaker):

Income Limit: $2,692/single, $3,291.66/married

No Asset Limit

Benefit: up to $1,000/single and $1,250/married based on income

House must be in your name or own a life use

Amount: $     

Client ID #      

Case Worker:      


Housing choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) EXH. B. 5 of 5

Amount State Pays: $     

Amount Tenant Pays: $

Client ID #      

Case Worker:      

RAP (Rental Assistance Program)

Amount: $     

Client ID #      

Case Worker:      

Senior Nutrition Program (Meals on Wheels):

Congregate Housing:

Housing Authority:

Veterans Tax Exemption (for homeowners):

Any Prior Benefits in Connecticut or Other States including incarceration (explain):

Veteran’s Benefits

1st Type of Benefit

Benefit Amount: $

2nd Type of Benefit      

Benefit Amount: $     

Service Number:

File Number:

Branch of Service:

exh c 1 of 3
EXH. C 1 of 3

Trust Checklist

I. Establish New Trust


  • Confirm receipt of Decree to establish, fund and appoint trustee
  • Confirm court has a copy of the executed trust
  • Obtain signed trustee services agreement
  • Obtain EIN for trust
  • Select financial advisor
trust checklist cont d exh c 2 of 3
Trust Checklist cont’d EXH. C 2 of 3


  • Establish trust investment account.
  • Establish trust bank account.
  • Set up accounting file on Quicken including download links to financial institutions
  • File Initial Inventory (PC Form 440)
  • File Appearance of attorney for Trustee
  • Initial meeting with beneficiary to introduce team and discuss needs
trust checklist cont d exh c 3 of 3
Trust Checklist cont’d EXH. C 3 of 3

7. Confirm which public benefits beneficiary is receiving (USE Benefits Checklist)

8. Schedule care evaluation with a Geriatric Care Manager

9. Establish a budget

10. Prepare and execute agreements such as caregiver, rental, conservator, etc. (if applicable)

11. Review pre-paid funeral arrangements

12. Establish vendor relationships & set-up billing accounts

13. Obtain insurance (umbrella, workers comp, vehicle, homeowners)


II. Trust On-Going Activities EXH. D - Tickler


Pay bills and coordinate disbursements

Receive mail, scan documents

Communicate with beneficiaries to address issues, as they may arise


Reconcile bank and investment accounts

Review bank statements


Estimated tax payments


Prepare trust activity report


File annual Probate Court accounting (PC Form 443).

Meeting with client to review benefits, budget and investment performance.


Personal Care Plans – For Child EXH E. 1-3

A Roadmap for the FutureConfidential Care PlanLovingly Prepared For: Prepared by: _____________________________ Date: ________________


For a Loved One EXH. E. 2-3

A Roadmap for the Future Confidential Personal Care PlanLovingly Prepared For: _______________________________Prepared by: ____________ Date: ___________

fee schedules exh f 1 2
Fee Schedules EXH .F 1-2


Attorney Sharon L. Pope


The services identified in this agreement are for the NAMED BENEFICIARY Special Needs Trust Agreement which was executed on ____________ and is under Probate Court jurisdiction.

Special needs trusts are not ordinary support trusts as these trusts are only available for persons with disabilities who are also recipients of certain public benefits. Maintaining these benefits is usually paramount; thus careful distribution planning is essential. Special knowledge is necessary to properly administer these trusts for the sole benefit of the beneficiary.

Trust Services: The trustee agrees to provide the following basic services; here's a sample:

  • Perform annual accountings of the Trust’s financial activities and distribution of quarterly statements to the trust beneficiary or the beneficiary’s legal representative.
  • Coordination and filing of all applicable federal and state trust tax forms. Actual tax preparation is not included.
  • Safekeeping of information and accounting records pertaining to the trust.
  • Selection of an investment advisor to manage the trust assets including on-going communication with the investment advisor.
  • An annual meeting with the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s legal representative, if needed, to assess the beneficiary’s needs and develop an annual budget.
  • Annual meetings with the investment advisor, if any, to review the investment portfolio against goals.
  • On-going communication between the beneficiary, Conservator or other parties and the trust administrator or trustee regarding trust activities. This may also include contacting vendors and arranging for services.
  • Collection of assets, receipt of income, payment of expenses and taxes and making distributions based on the annual budget.

Hourly Trustee Fees: Fees will be based on time charges at the following hourly rates:

  • Trustee $
  • Trust Administrator $
  • Trust Bookkeeper $


Annual Trustee Fees: The annual fees for trustee services are based on the periodic market value of all assets, including real estate, held in the trust as of a specific date.

On the 1st $1,000,000 ? %.

Next $1,000,000 ?%

Next $3,000,000 ? %

Over $5,000,000 ? %

fee schedules cont d exh f 2 2
Fee Schedules cont’d EXH. F. 2-2

You can expect the Trust Administrators to provide the majority of services.

Billing: Billing for trustee services will commence upon the deposit of any funds, securities or other assets into the Trust. Trustee fees will be billed and deducted from the trust account on a quarterly basis. A copy of statements will be sent to the beneficiary or legal representative.

Legal Services: Legal advice or expertise may be required in additional areas such as court petitions, hearings and appearances, application(s) for public benefits or redetermination of these benefits, if requested, reporting to federal agencies, etc. Legal services will be billed at the following hourly rates which are discounted from our usual and customary fees:

(a) Attorney $ _______discounted from the firm’s usual and customary rate of $______.

(b) Associate Attorney $ _______discounted from the firm’s usual and customary rate of $______.

(c) Paralegal $_______ discounted from the firm’s usual and customary rate of $______.

The Firm reserves the right to increase its fee schedule and hourly rates with 30 days’ prior notice to the Client.

Investment responsibility is delegated to an Investment Advisor for trusts with balances in excess of $250,000.

Trusts with $250,000 or less will be held in FDIC insured accounts.

We, the Client and the Firm, have read this Fee Agreement and agree to its terms and have signed it as our free act.

By _____________________________ _____________________________

Client Date

By _____________________________ _____________________________

Attorney Sharon L. Pope Date

For: The Firm

trust operating budget exh g

Client Name:


Budget Year: Monthly Annual


Investment Income   -          

Other Income

Total Income - -          




Household Services              

Food / Groceries              

Property Taxes              

Care Giver Services              

Vehicle Maintenance / Gas              

Attorney Fees              

Probate Court Fees              

Trustee Fees              

Financial Advisor              

Distributions to Beneficiary              

Other Expenses              

Income Taxes              

Total Expenses - -    

Surplus / (Deficit) $ - $ -

thank you
Thank you!
  • By Attorney Sharon L. Pope

15 Massirio Drive, Berlin ∞ 151 New Park Avenue, Hartford237 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury ∞ 281 Hartford Tpke, Vernon(860) 236-7673