Fixing a Broken Trust
While the methods of fixing a trust may seem complicated, the steps to get started are relatively simple.
Special Needs Alliance
In many ways, an irrevocable trust is like a house. It is a structure designed to last a long time, to benefit the people who live there (the beneficiaries), and to safeguard property (the trust assets). And, like a house, the components of a trust can sometimes break or become outdated. A trust may have been designed for one purpose, but a change in circumstances might require renovation. Sometimes the parts of the trust (its provisions) become antiquated, or even unsafe, and require modernizing.
When the beneficiary of a trust has a disability, the need to update or fix a trust that no longer works effectively becomes even more important. For example, if a trust contains a provision that allows the beneficiary with a disability to receive all of the income from a trust or gives that beneficiary the right to require the trustee to make distributions to him or her, it could eliminate that person’s eligibility for means-tested government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. To keep access to government benefits available, the trust will require alterations.
While the methods of fixing a trust may seem complicated, the steps to get started are relatively simple. Review the trust document carefully, determine what needs to be removed and what needs to be added, and evaluate the different options for altering the trust based on that trust’s applicable state law—all while checking if any other provisions of the trust can be improved before getting started. If the design is sound and the work is done well the craftsmanship should last for a long time. And whether it is a trust or a house that receives this attention, both will benefit from the result.
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Special Needs Alliance
The Special Needs Alliance (SNA) is a national organization comprised of attorneys committed to the practice of disability and public benefits law. Individuals with disabilities, their families and their advisors rely on the SNA to connect them with nearby attorneys who focus their practices in the disability law arena. The SNA is an invitation-only organization. SNA membership is based on a combination of relevant legal experience in the disability and elder law fields, direct family experience with disability, active participation with national, state and local disability advocacy organizations, and professional reputation.