Special Needs Trust Administration

Consistency and Stability For Beneficiaries With Disabilities

Engaging Cumberland Trust to administer a Special Needs Trust can ensure there are funds and a team of caring professionals available to manage the critical day-to-day needs of beneficiaries with disabilities.

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Special Needs Deserve Specialized Care

Twenty million U.S. families are caring for individuals with disabilities. Most trust companies lack the flexibility to properly manage the hands-on, nurturing work that goes into Special Needs Trusts, and are beginning to end these administration offerings altogether due to the high level of service and attention that these trusts require.

Cumberland Trust has a strong corporate commitment to this area of trust administration, and we are a national leader in exceptional Special Needs Trust administration. With a team of responsive trust specialists, administrators, and officers focused and dedicated to Special Needs Trust administration, we provide attentive care.

  • We become long-term partners and support systems for families and beneficiaries.
  • We can connect you with specialists to help navigate public benefits.
  • We coordinate with the trust’s team of professionals.
  • We encourage future goals and needs.
  • We serve as a first point of contact for the beneficiary to address their needs.

Understanding Two Primary Types of Special Needs Trusts

While those with disabilities are often eligible for critical assistance through Medicaid and Social Security, if these individuals have accessible funds, they can lose that assistance or fail to qualify. With a Special Needs Trust in place, a family’s well-intended funds can benefit their loved one in a meaningful way without disqualifying them for the benefits they might receive through Medicaid or Social Security.

First-Party SNT

First-party Special Needs Trusts are established for an individual with a disability to protect that individual’s eligibility for state need-based funding, often as a result of litigation.


First-Party SNT Examples
  • A child is born with a disability caused by medical malpractice. The child’s family sues the doctors and hospital, which results in a large settlement that the family is unsure how to manage. As a term of the settlement, the family sets up a first-party SNT for the benefit of the child to protect the funds.
  • A married couple, with one spouse having a disability and unable to work, decides to divorce. The spouse with a disability is utilizing public benefits, so a first-party SNT is set up through the divorce settlement.

Third-Party SNT

Third-party Special Needs Trusts are set up by a donor, typically through an estate plan. Often, these trusts go into effect when the donor passes away. The trust continues to help the beneficiary with special needs manage their everyday needs. When the beneficiary passes away, the assets from his or her third-party trust can be passed to other family members or to individuals or entities as provided in the trust document.


THIRD-Party SNT Examples
  • The elderly parents of an adult child with a disability are nearing the end of life and want to protect their child’s eligibility for Medicaid and other essential need-based government funding. They establish a third-party SNT to benefit the child after they pass.
  • The parents of a grown child living with a mental health condition have cared for their child for years, but need help managing affairs as they age. They decide to set up and fund a third-party SNT to provide support for their child while they are still living.

What Can a Special Needs Trust Provide?

A supplemental care Special Needs Trust can pay for many services needed by the beneficiary. These supplemental trusts, however, have stringent rules on how distributions may be made.

It is assumed that a person receiving government benefits has his or her most basic needs covered through those benefits. Basic needs coverage is broadly categorized as food and shelter. The SNT is intended to be supplemental in nature, providing support in addition to what the beneficiary already receives through his or her government benefits. It is not intended to supplant, or replace, those resources. For this reason, if a beneficiary receives assistance from the SNT for food and shelter, the beneficiary has a duty to report this to the SSA and it will likely reduce the benefit they receive. It is best practice to use the SNT for purposes other than food and shelter.

Common Special Needs Trust Disbursements Support:

  • Recreational and vocational activities
  • Hobbies and vacations
  • Educational and training opportunities
  • Communications equipment or computers
  • Professional services, including attorneys, accountants, and claims processors
  • A pet, veterinary services, food, and supplies
  • Medical costs not covered by Medicaid, such as vitamins or massage therapy

Meet Our Special Needs Trust Administration Experts

Michelle Femino

Trust Specialist

Kim Kochamba

Trust Specialist

Caitlyn A. Lovell

Trust Officer

Tim McCoy

Trust Officer

Robin McNeil

Trust Specialist

Melissa Murray

Assistant Vice President & Trust Officer

Maddie Oates

Trust Specialist

Debbie Schultz

Vice President & Director, Special Needs Trust Administration

Lorena O. Suarez

Assistant Vice President & Trust Officer

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