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Finding The Right Pooled Income Trust Is More Important Than Ever

How to Find the Right Pooled Income Trust

For most of us, the current pandemic has brought increased anxiety to keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe. For some, there is also an increased sense of urgency to move loved ones from nursing homes to a safer environment. Add to that the possible need to find a pooled income trust and your stress will likely move to the next level. 

With so much negative news about the vulnerability of our elderly population, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. There are also steps to follow and lots of paperwork in qualifying for a supplemental needs trust. That’s where a reputable organization can help. So, how do you find the right team to help with your needs?

Understand the process.

First, take a deep breath. Then follow the steps that you’d normally take to make a key decision. Realize the scope of what needs to happen to qualify a family member as a medicaid recipient, for Medicaid Home Care Benefits. As with any government benefit, there is a process to follow. It will include meeting government requirements and regulations, completing a medicaid application, income qualifications, allowable expenses, and needed approvals.

You may find this is all very intimidating and choose to get legal advice. Or, you might find a consultant to help you. If so, you’ll need to share your concerns and the issues that your loved one may be facing. You should get to know and explore all the options. It will be important to review the details to make an informed decision that you and your loved one can live with.

Is a pooled trust really necessary?

Your elderly or disabled family member may earn too much money to qualify for home care under Medicaid. A pooled income trust can help in the qualification process by managing the earning overages. This will allow your loved one to use all of their excess income to pay for living expenses. 

So, if your elderly, disabled or blind loved one needs long term care at home, you’ll need to search for a reputable supplemental needs trust. But before searching, check with your attorney or elder law consultant, if you’ve contacted one, as they may have recommendations for you.

Feeling confident about funding your trust.

If you feel queasy about letting someone else handle your loved one’s funds, you’re not alone. According to the Orion Resource Group, Navigating the Elder Care Universe, “There is a common misconception among clients that in order to qualify for Medicaid a person must give away all their money, which quite understandably is something that clients are hesitant to do.” 

When it comes to your money, allowing someone else to handle your monthly income is an important decision. It feels like handing $100 over to a stranger to go into the store and buy your groceries. Why should I allow someone else to manage my affairs or my parent’s affairs?

This is a natural reaction when it comes to handling your funds. You may not even feel comfortable with a relative controlling your funds let alone a pooled trust. This is why you need to look for someone who you feel comfortable with and who is highly reputable. Getting past the panic can help you better look for the right trust to meet your loved one’s needs.

Where can I search for a reputable pooled trust?

If you were given a directory or referral list, you might begin there. The problem is that the list or directory may not reflect some of the best options that are available. Researching online, however, will offer you a wealth of information about pooled trusts. The more specific the search, the more likely you will find one perfect for you. For example, the state location of the trust beneficiary is critical. 

Let’s say you are looking for a New York provider. In that case, you may do a search for “New York pooled trusts.” You’ll likely find a reputable List of Pooled Supplement Needs Trusts in New York State. As stated on their site, it presents a list of non-profit organizations in the state that “offer pooled Supplemental Needs Trusts (or similar services) to people with disabilities.” 

Ideally, you’ll find a comparison chart to zero in on what feels right for your situation. Note the differences in their fees and services. Then visit the best provider websites to learn more about what they offer and if they are a good fit. 

Make a connection.

Once you’ve created a short list of trusts that you feel meet your needs, make contact. 

  • Send an email. If you start with an email, introduce yourself and your loved one’s situation. Provide a list of your important questions including details of the type of help you or your loved one needs. Don’t, however, disclose any private information at this point (e.g. social security numbers, etc.)
  • If you decide to call the provider on the phone, be sure to have a list of questions ready to ask. And be sure to take notes. Discuss your loved one’s needs. Be prepared to have documents or other relevant paperwork handy to provide more information.

Ask the right questions.

As discussed above, you should approach perspective providers with a list of questions, but what are the right questions to ask? They will be specific questions relative to your loved one’s situation. 

Typical questions relating to your family member’s situation might include:

  • What is the process to qualify for a pooled trust? 
  • How can I feel confident that the process will be handled correctly and in my loved one’s best interest? 
  • How are my family member’s expenses going to be managed? 
  • What expenses are allowed to be paid by the trust? 
  • What are the limits, if any, to overages in income?

Provider questions may include:

  • Ask about monthly fees and any renewal fees. 
  • What is the minimum opening deposit? 
  • What is the required minimum balance, if any? 
  • Can contributions be made via ACH direct debit from a bank account? 
  • How soon do bills get paid?
  • Are my bills paid electronically?
  • Do they provide 24/7 access to your information? 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask all the things you are not sure of or don’t understand. 

Other considerations:

  • Maybe you need extra help with the eligibility process. 
  • You’ll want to know what will be needed to get things started. 
  • Learn as much as possible about how choosing a particular pooled trust will make a difference. 

The goal is to understand the process. Know the fees. And make a list of what services you will receive in return. In any event, the answers you get will help you make the right decision.

Look for customer service.

Customer service in any business should be paramount. And with all that is happening these days, providers should be sensitive to your concerns and willing to help. But it shouldn’t take a crisis to get the type of customer service that you deserve.

As you deal with potential providers, pay special attention to how they handle your inquiry. Do they understand your anxiety? Does it seem they have a good grasp on your situation? Do they have the answers to all your questions? Or, do they need to get back to you? Do they seem happy to help? Ask them how they differ from other pooled trusts. 

The way they handle your questions is a good indicator of the type of customer service you can expect. Be sure to look over testimonials and online customer service reviews, if available. Check their hours of availability including customer service hours, policies, accessibility, etc.

The importance of efficiency and accuracy.

When your family member’s personal funds are involved, you should expect the best. A reputable pooled trust organization will provide an efficient process of managing and paying allowable expenses. They should strive for accuracy and go above and beyond to do a good job in managing finances. Here you can get into some details on exactly how funds are managed. 

For example, are bills always paid on time? What is done about a late bill? Are processes handled manually or are they automated? What procedures are in place to reduce error? Will you have online portal access to see which bills have been paid?

The end result is the beginning of home care.

Finding the right pooled income trust isn’t rocket science. But if you’re not an expert in estate planning, special needs planning, or public benefits, it can seem complex. Pooled Income trusts are established by various not-for-profit organizations who are experts in their field. Working with a reputable organization will make home care possible at a time when your loved one needs it most.

KTS is ready to help you with your pooled trust needs. Contact us today.

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