The Pooled Trust program at Community Trust is our flagship platform, currently serving more than 800 beneficiaries in every corner of the Commonwealth. Our beneficiaries include seniors living in the community with family, in their own homes, and in a variety of congregate housing arrangements, including public housing, assisted living, rest homes and others. We also have many beneficiaries who reside in skilled nursing facilities across the state.
People come to us because they require Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and those programs do not allow them to have more than $2,000 in assets. Whatever savings or other assets they own will have to be spent—unless they can set them aside in a Medicaid-exempt trust—in order to qualify for public benefits. There are other public programs, as well, such as Food Stamps, public housing and Veterans Benefits, that can be affected by assets, unless the individual can put them in trust.
Assets in a Pooled Trust can be used for an enormous variety of personal needs that public programs cannot provide. These include recreational and social activities, clothing, a bedside telephone and cable TV, access to a chair car and other transportation, companionship visits, denture replacement and non-medical dental care, social work and legal expenses, and many other uses. For a comprehensive list of the kinds of support that a trust can provide, please go to Uses of Disability Trusts.
What Is the “Pool” in Pooled Trusts?
The “pooling” of accounts in a Pooled Trust means simply that all of the separate trusts in the program are invested and administered under a common set of rules, while distributions are determined completely separately, in accordance with the individual needs and resources that each beneficiary has. Each individual may benefit solely from his or her assets alone.
Having common rules for investment and management allows the trustee to pool assets into common investments, which are managed professionally with seasoned investment counsel. Community Trust invests with low risk tolerance, due to the current investment climate and the relatively short investment horizon for the vast majority of our accounts.
Age and Account Size
Two important reasons that people choose a Pooled Trust are (1) if the person is age 65 or older, a Pooled Trust is the only Medicaid-exempt trust option that is offered to them by the Medicaid and SSI programs; and (2) people with relatively small amounts of assets do not have any other access to high-quality, professional trustee services.
Pooled Trust programs must be administered by a non-profit trustee, whose beneficiaries must be disabled and largely reliant on public benefits. As a charity, Community Trust has no minimum account size, and no minimum annual fee.
Requirements for a Pooled Trust
To qualify as Medicaid-exempt, a Pooled Trust must meet the following criteria, all of which are satisfied by the Pooled Trust program at Community Trust:
- the beneficiary must be disabled;
- the trust must be for the “sole benefit” of the disabled beneficiary;
- only certain individuals—a parent, grandparent, guardians/conservator, court, or the individual himself or herself—can be the one who establishes the trust;
- except for a trust-retained amount, the state Medicaid program must be the primary remainder beneficiary upon the death of the beneficiary, up to the amount that was paid by Medicaid for that persons benefit during lifetime; and
- the trustee must be a non-profit organization.
Joining the Pooled Trust Program
A Pooled Trust account is created by signing a short document that creates the account and joins it to the master trust, Guardian Community Trust for supplemental needs . This master trust was established originally in 2004 and has been joined by over 2,000 separate beneficiaries over the ensuing years.
There is no application or acceptance fee at the time of joining the Guardian Community Trust program. The joinder instrument is called a “Sponsor Agreement”. The Sponsor Agreement should be created with the help of qualified legal counsel. When completed the beneficiary sends in the sponsor agreement with deposit of funds. If the trust is being created by an agent under power of attorney, a conservator or other fiduciary, a copy of the authorizing documents must be included. An account being creating by a court also must include a reference to the legal action or to the petition that authorizes creation of the account.