A Pooled Trust can be established for individuals living with a physical or intellectual disability. There is no age restriction on when a pooled trust is stablished. Assets are transferred into a trust in an effort to qualify for or maintain government benefits while preserving those assets for their individual use. This kind of trust can be established by a parent, grandparent, conservator, court, or an individual with a disability and/or an attorney-in-fact and/or his attorney in fact. A Pooled Trust is different from other kinds of trusts in that the trustee is a nonprofit organization.
Is There a Medicaid Payback?
A Pooled Special Needs Trust must include a payback provision so that, upon the beneficiary’s death, Medicaid may recover from the trust the amount which Medicaid expended on the beneficiary’s care.
When an individual joins a Pooled Special Needs Trust, his or her money is grouped with other people’s trust money, while maintaining a separate “identity” in a pooled trust sub-account. This money is pooled for investment purposes. The nonprofit organization, serving as trustee, invests a portion of the trust funds very conservatively so that the funds remain stable but see a modest growth over time.
The trustee charges a joinder fee, an annual fee (usually a small percentage of the money in the trust on the anniversary date), and a closing fee upon the death of the beneficiary or the closing of the trust. These fees are deducted from the trust funds.
Family Members as Trustees, a Wise Decision?
A family member, guardian, conservator, or caregiver may wonder if a Special Needs Trust can be established without professional assistance. On the surface, having a family member serve as trustee may seem like a logical choice because family members are usually in the best position to understand the beneficiary’s special needs.
Unfortunately, unless the family member has a full understanding of Special Needs Trusts, he or she may not have the knowledge to fulfill the role of trustee and may inadvertently jeopardize the beneficiary’s eligibility for public assistance programs. It can prove advantageous to rely on professionals to establish and administer the Special Needs Trust.
What is a Pooled Special Needs Trust?
A Pooled Special Needs Trust is a legal document of Federal disability law, authorized by Congress under 42 U.S.C. section 1396(d)(4)(C). Before this law was enacted, people living with a physical or intellectual disability who received personal injury settlements, inheritances, or financial windfall risked the loss of essential government benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The trustee, Vista Points, Inc., administers the money in the trust for the benefit of the person living with a disability.
How Can the Trust Money be used?
The money in a Pooled Special Needs Trust can be used for the beneficiary’s “special needs”. Money in the pooled trust can be used to purchase goods and/or services that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid do not pay such as nonmedical care, electronic equipment, personal items, entertainment, pre-need burial arrangements and vacations.
A Pooled Special Needs Trust beneficiary receives more than protection of public benefits. The beneficiary gets the advantages that come from being a member of a large trust, including high-quality investment management services and the potential for better interest rates on invested trust funds.