By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. a New Jersey Special Needs Trust Attorney

Who is the client?  It’s the first ethical question to be answered by a trustee of a NJ Special Needs Trust.
Is the client the trustee of the trust, a beneficiary, maybe the settler of the trust, an interested friend, or family member?  Be sure to obtain conflict waivers if you sense a conflict between beneficiaries. Does the client have the capacity to sign a conflict waiver?  Do they understand the purpose and legal requirements of the trust?  Who will be paying the bill?  Do you have the written authority to accept payment from a non-client?  Does the person paying your bill think they are your client?

Your high school buddy, Chuck, calls you from Newark, New Jersey.  His dad recently died, owning a home and other assets valued at $55,000.00, but who died with no will.  Chuck wants to meet with you, his sister, and his brother, who is on SSI, next week in your office.  At the meeting, all three of them agree that the sister should serve as administrator of the estate.  Who is your client?  Have the family agree that you will represent the administrator of the estate only.  Have Chuck and his brother sign a statement that his sister is your client and that he is not your client.  Then figure out how to get the brother’s share of the inheritance into a first-party special needs trust to protect his SSI benefits.

Contact me personally today to discuss your New Jersey special needs trust.  I am easy to talk to, very approachable and can offer you practical, legal ways to handle your concerns.  You can reach me toll free at (855) 376-5291 or e-mail me at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.