A trust is a fiduciary arrangement that allows a third party, or trustee, to hold assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. Trusts can be arranged in many ways and can specify exactly how and when the assets pass to the beneficiaries. Trusts are often used for providing for the needs of special needs individuals.
Julie has served as a Trustee for over 15 years with an emphasis on Special Needs Trusts. Special Needs Trusts are designed specifically for people with disabilities and are often funded with proceeds from a personal injury settlement or inheritance. The Trusts are designed to protect beneficiaries receiving such public benefits as SSI, Medicaid, food stamps and/or housing. Having a Special Needs Trust ensures that beneficiaries will not lose these benefits as long as the Trust is properly administered.
The Trustee of a Special Needs Trust must know which public benefits programs might be available to the beneficiary. The Trustee must understand all the rules related to these programs and must administer the trust so that a beneficiary does not lose these benefits. The essential purpose of a Special Needs Trust is to improve the quality of the beneficiary’s life without disqualifying him or her from eligibility to public benefits.
Duties of the trustee include:
- Handle all financial affairs of the trust, including paying trust expenses, reconciling accounts and monitoring investments.
- Determine the appropriateness of distributions requested by beneficiaries and ensure all public benefits are protected.
- Establish budgets based on short-term and long-term (financial and medical) special needs of each beneficiary.
- Work closely with financial advisors to ensure assets are invested appropriately and prudently to meet the needs of the beneficiary.
- Prepare annual accountings to beneficiaries and other interested parties.
What is an estate?
An estate is the total of a person’s assets, including money, property, vehicles, and other personal items at the time of death. Probate is the process by which an estate is administered through the court and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. An estate plan usually begins with a will. Some individuals appoint Julie as personal representative because they have no family members available to serve in this capacity. Others appoint her because they do not want to place the significant burden of the administration of their estate on a loved one. Julie has also been appointed by the court when someone dies without a will or when the appointed personal representative is not available. With over 15 years of experience in administering estates, Julie offers experienced and professional personal representation for all aspects of administrative duties related to the matters of your estate.
Duties of a Personal Representative:
- Identify, safeguard and value probate assets.
- Identify creditors and pay debts.
- Identify non-probate assets and assist beneficiaries in securing those assets.
- Work with financial advisors to liquidate assets.
- Work with accountants to file tax returns.
- Distribute assets to beneficiaries pursuant to the terms of the will, trust or law.
What is a guardianship?
Guardianship is a process by which the Court appoints a person to handle the affairs of an incapacitated person or a minor child. Many of our clients have family members who could hypothetically serve in this capacity; however, the guardianship role is a huge responsibility. The legal system can be daunting and many family members understandably prefer to have the involvement of a professional guardian.
Julie serves as guardian of the property for minor children. A guardianship is required for any minor who receives more than $15,000 usually from a personal injury settlement or an inheritance. Funds will be placed in a court restricted account and can only be accessed by a court order.
What are the duties of a guardian?
- Petition the court for funds when needed.
- Plan and implement budgets.
- Monitor investments.
- Prepare Annual Accountings to be filed with the Court.
- Report to family members.