Establishing a Special Needs Trust in Tennessee: Duties of the Trustee

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on October 22, 2020

As estate planning attorneys, we understand the intricacies of creating a balanced life for our loved ones with special needs and constricted financial circumstances. While much of these discussions focus on the needs of the beneficiary, it is important to realize that the role of the trustee is critical in the establishment of a special needs trust in Tennessee.

Duties of a Trustee of a Special Needs Trust

When you are appointed the trustee of a special needs trust for a loved one, there are many responsibilities that you have to ensure that their supplemental benefits are not impacted by the funds of the trust.

Included in the fiduciary duty as the trustee are:

  • Duties to carry out the terms of the trust
  • Loyalty to the beneficiary
  • Duties to act and invest prudently
  • Responsibility to not delegate your role as trustee to another individual
  • Responsibility to maintain records so the beneficiary can be as informed as possible in the terms of the trust

While the book-keeping aspects of being a special needs trust trustee are paramount, the loyalty and trust you must establish with the beneficiary are what will determine the success of the trustee-beneficiary relationship.

In these types of trusts, the role of the trustee is even more so critical; if you were to breach the role, you not only will lose the position of the trustee but can also be held responsible for the loss and be forced to pay back any damages that result from your negligence.

Though not necessarily required by law, in some cases, you may be asked to arrange a yearly evaluation of the beneficiary to review:

  • Physical condition
  • Social needs
  • Supplemental benefits
  • Legal rights and changes

These types of evaluations may be requested by the family of the beneficiary or a social worker if one is assigned to the case.

Establishing a Special Needs Trust in Tennessee with Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC

When you have been named the trustee of a special needs trust in Tennessee, you likely have many questions and concerns about your role, your obligations to the beneficiary, and what assets you need to protect for that person in the event they cannot do so themselves.

This is no small undertaking which is why our special needs trust lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, are dedicated to you. Serving clients in Nashville, Franklin, Bellevue, and throughout Tennessee, with their estate planning needs, we understand the complexities of being a trustee and will provide you with resources to ensure you are serving your role properly and effectively.

If you need assistance with establishing a special needs trust for a family member, contact our estate lawyers today for a free consultation.

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