Accounts that May or May not be Trusts

The Special Needs Trusts & Resource Center

Policy – Accounts That May Or May Not Be Trusts

Accounts That Are Not Trusts

The following accounts and instruments are similar to trusts and may be titled as trusts, but should generally not be developed under these instructions for SSI purposes:

– Conservatorship Accounts

These accounts, established by a court, are usually administered by a court-appointed conservator for the benefit of an individual. They differ from a trust in that the “beneficiary” retains ownership of all of the assets, although in some cases they may not be available for support and maintenance. (See 81 01140.215 for instructions pertaining to conservatorship accounts.)

– Patient Trust Accounts

Many nursing homes, institutions and government social services agencies maintain so called “patient trust accounts” for individuals to provide them with toiletries, cigarettes, candy and sundries. Although titled trust accounts, they are not; they are agency accounts. The individual owns the money in the account, which the institution is merely holding for himlher and making disbursements on his/her behalf as necessary. (See 81 01120.020, 81 00810.120 and GN 00603.020 for information on transactions involving agents.)

“In Trust For” Financial Accounts

These accounts mayor may not be trusts depending on the circumstances in the individual case. Examples of the most common situations follow:

– Representative Payee Accounts

One of the most common types of “in trust for” accounts are representative payee accounts. These accounts are not trusts, but improperly titled accounts that are misleading as to the actual owner of the funds. If a representative payee deposits current or conserved benefits in an account, the account must be titled to reflect the beneficiary’s ownership interest. (See 81 01120.020 and 81 00810.120 for instructions pertaining to agency accounts. See GN 00603.010 for instructions pertaining to titling of accounts established by representative payees.)

– Totten Trusts

An “in trust for” financial institution account may be a Totten trust if an individual deposits his/her own funds in an account and holds the account as owner for the benefit of another individual(s).

“Thank you so much for helping mom throughout these opportunities to enhance her home and make things so much safer for her.”-G. Bateman

Be Informed

Know what you are risking by not taking advantage of the protection offered by a Special Needs Trust. Vista Points can connect you to the resources to establish a Special Needs Trust, all with your specific and individual needs in mind.