SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST ADMINISTRATION
AND OTHER FIDUCIARY SERVICES
At PLAN|NJ, we emphasize personal life planning along with financial strategies for people with disabilities in order to be inclusive of the whole person’s goals and preferences when planning for the future. PLAN|NJ serves in a fiduciary role as Trustee, providing oversight and monitoring of either individual Special Needs Trusts or sub-accounts in our Pooled Trust, the PLAN|NJ Community Trust.
PLAN|NJ offers families a combination of financial support and social services uniquely developed to meet our mission to serve people with disabilities. Our expertise in this area, along with our extensive experience as Trustee, makes PLAN|NJ exceptionally suited for this role.
What Is A Special Needs Trust?
A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is an important part of planning for a loved one with a disability.
Families should consult with an attorney knowledgeable in this area, because, when done properly, a trust can supplement a person’s needs without jeopardizing eligibility for crucial public benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.
An attorney with expertise in estate planning for people with disabilities can assist in creating the Special Needs Trust document for PLAN|NJ to administer on behalf of a loved one, or a sub-account can be created in the pooled PLAN|NJ Community Trust.
For more information on planning for the future and how a Special Needs Trust can be used as a tool to enhance your loved one’s quality of life, click here.
WHAT IS A TRUSTEE?
Selecting a Trustee is an integral part of creating peace of mind for individuals with disabilities and their families. A trustee may be an individual, such as a family member, or a corporate entity, such as an organization like Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey (PLAN|NJ). As Trustee, PLAN|NJ staff members regularly communicate with the beneficiary of the trust, a legal guardian, or an authorized family member or representative, to determine what is needed to support quality of life and supplement public benefits.
We help develop budgets and spending plans based on beneficiaries’ needs; provide financial and tax accounting and reporting to public benefits agencies; and provide resources for families to connect to expert attorneys or financial planners when needed.
Individual Special Needs Trust
An attorney can create an individual Special Needs Trust (SNT) and appoint PLAN|NJ as trustee. The Trust can be drafted separately or as part of an estate plan. Distributions are made according to the instructions of the Grantor, as defined by the Trust agreement and in accordance with regulations of state and federal agencies.
Please contact our Director of Trust Services, Nancy Dilliplane, at (908) 575-8300, extension 15 for more information or to schedule a consultation in English or Spanish.
The PLAN|NJ Community Trust, a pooled Special Needs Trust, has a Master Trust and separate Joinder Agreements for First Party Trusts and Third-Party Trusts.
PLAN|NJ serves as sole Trustee. Sub-accounts within the PLAN|NJ Community Trust are accounted for separately but are pooled together for investment and management purposes, making them a cost-effective option for smaller trusts. Families and beneficiaries should always review the Master Trust and Joinder Agreement with an attorney, as these are legally binding documents.
PLAN|NJ would be happy to discuss in detail a family or beneficiary’s individual needs.
When an individual has been declared incapacitated by the Court, and family members are unable to serve in this capacity, PLAN|NJ staff can serve as Legal Guardian. In this role, we prioritize supported, surrogate decision-making on their behalf and promote their choices, self-determination, dignity, and respect. We visit the individuals we support under Guardianship a minimum of once monthly to assess living arrangements, monitor employment if applicable, review their day centers, and ensure proper engagement with physicians, state and federal agencies, and other service providers.
We advocate to resolve concerns and address needs and serve as their emergency contact. We seek to promote quality of life and advocate for the individual in all areas of life including health, housing, education, employment, recreation, and community living. We protect the individual and their personal property and protect them from fraud or undue influence.
Representative Payee for Social Security Benefits
If you or a family member are already receiving a PLAN|NJ service, you can also have us serve as the Representative Payee for Social Security benefits for you. When you or your loved one needs assistance with budgeting and bill paying, we can manage Social Security and other income to ensure financial solvency and provide protection from potential financial exploitation.
As a representative payee, PLAN|NJ will:
- Communicate with you or your loved one, monitor expenses, and assist with paying bills
- Ensure that basic requirements are met for food, clothing, and shelter
- Assist with budgeting and other regular financial management
- Assist with eligibility and benefits issues, ensuring personal needs and financial obligations are met
- Submit required reports to the Social Security Administration and other governmental agencies
Frequently Asked Questions: Special Needs Trusts
“What happens if I do not create a Special Needs Trust?”
If you do not create a Special Needs Trust, the portion of your Estate designated to benefit your child with special needs will be distributed directly to him and it will put the individual’s means-tested benefits in jeopardy due to over-resourcing. As a result, any means-tested benefits could be terminated due to having more than $2,000 in assets per SSA and Medicaid guidelines. Therefore, future decision-makers would be required to create a First Party Special Needs Trust, which is subject to a Medicaid lien with the individual’s assets to preserve their original benefits.
“How do I choose a Trustee?”
It is important to choose a Trustee who knows the laws and will keep current with changing regulations governing Special Needs Trusts. The Trustee will ensure the trust is appropriately administered in order to maintain public benefits. It may be advisable to select a trustee who is not a family member to help avoid tension in family relationships. As with Guardianship, plan for a line of successors in the Trustee role and consider an agency like PLAN|NJ if you have limited successors available.
“Does the Trustee get paid?”
The Trustee can be paid as long as a provision is written into the Trust to provide for payment. Subsequently, if a Trustee should not be paid, a provision to that effect should be added to the Trust.
“Is there any way my family member can have oversight of the Trust but not serve as the Trustee?”
Yes. You can designate a family member as a Trust Protector to ensure the Trustee is managing the Trust responsibly. The Trust Protector would not be responsible for the day-to-day distributions, maintenance and investment of the trust but would have oversight and the ability to question the Trust management should an issue arise.
“Can I pay for housing from a SNT?”
You can pay for housing from a Special Needs Trust, but it may affect an individual’s public benefits. Since this is very case specific, a Trustee should always seek legal advice when considering this.
“Can I put money from a SNT into an ABLE account?”
Yes. You can transfer money from a Special Needs Trust to an ABLE account. The transfer must not exceed the maximum allowable per year ($15,000). Transfers to an ABLE account are subject to Medicaid repayment upon the individual’s death. If the transfer is from a First Party Trust to an ABLE account and it is for $5,000 or higher, the trustee must notify the State Medicaid Legal and Regulatory Office pursuant to regulations.
CIRCLE OF SUPPORT
"A Talk With Families"
The stories of three families with loved ones who have disabilities and who use PLAN|NJ's trust administration and care coordination services are told through interviews conducted in their homes by Executive Director Ellen Nalven.
GET IN TOUCH
Planned Lifetime Assistance Network of New Jersey PLAN|NJ
PO Box 547
Somerville, NJ 08876-0547
PROUD MEMBERS OF:
Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities
Association of People Supporting Employment First
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Guardianship Association
National PLAN Alliance
SOMETHING MISSING? LET US KNOW.
We work hard to provide relevant and current information. If you feel something is missing or needs to be corrected, please contact us via our contact form HERE.
PLAN | NJ - Lifetime Advocacy for People with Differing Abilities
PLAN|NJ’s mission is to help families of individuals with disabilities answer all of the challenging questions embedded within the larger one:
“Who will care for my loved one when I am gone?”
We coordinate the supports needed by individuals with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities, and challenges with mental health, including people with autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, severe mental illness and more.
If you speak Spanish and would like more information or need to schedule a consultation, please contact:
Nancy Dilliplane, Director of Trust Services
Bilingual assistance: 908-575-8300 ext 15