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Pooled Trust vs. Self-Settled Special Needs Trust

Posted by Thomas Asbury | May 07, 2023 | 0 Comments

A pooled trust is also called a “d4C Trust” because it was authorized by US Code 1396p(d)(4)(C). It was developed, is managed by a charity, and is funded by the individual with special needs for their exclusive usage. A person's pooled trust is a sub-account of a master trust, which is a collection of other separate trusts. The managing organization is in charge of overseeing the pool's whole collection of individual accounts. An entity that manages a pooled trust will have its own joinder agreement and be in charge of the trust's terms.

Self-Settled Special Needs Trusts are an alternative to Pooled Trusts (SNT). This trust is also called a “d4A Trust” since US Code 1396p(d)(4) permits it to exist (A). Since this trust is owned only by the recipient, the beneficiary is in charge of determining its rules. Both a pooled trust and a Self-Settled SNT must include certain clauses, including a repayment clause, as mandated by law. This is because the beneficiary's own assets are used to fund both a pooled trust and a self-settled SNT.

There are several advantages of a Pooled Trust over a Self-Settled SNT. For example:

  • A pooled trust has lower administrative costs;
  • You don't need to find a Trustee because the pooled trust entity will act as your Trustee;
  • You can pool funds for better investment opportunities and returns; and
  • You have a legal entity (possibly with insurance coverage) to hold accountable if things go wrong.

However, downsides of a pooled trust over a Self-Settled SNT include the following:

  • The beneficiary has little or no control over the terms of the pooled trust;
  • There is no control regarding who is serving as Trustee;
  • Distributions are oftentimes more difficult for the beneficiary to obtain since the distribution request is subject to the pooled trust's practices and policies; and
  • The investment strategies of a pooled trust are not based on the individual beneficiary's needs or circumstances.

Since the former offers greater control and flexibility than pooled trusts, they are typically preferred. Pooled trusts, on the other hand, are utilized when financing for the trust is little and it is not necessary to incur administrative expenses for a Self-Settled SNT. Both alternatives enable a person to save money for their unique requirements while still qualifying for government assistance.

About the Author

Thomas Asbury

Mr. Asbury is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Before attending law school, Tom worked in the Internet sector as the Webmaster for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. While in law school, he published a law review article entitled Alternative Sentencing Theory, 3 Fla. Coastal L. J. 41 (2001), which identifies a constitutional framework within which defendants charged with alcohol and drug-related crimes can be remanded to faith-based programs rather than prison for non-violent offences. The logic is quite simple—as sobriety becomes the norm and addictions subside, so too do the often-accompanying crimes. His professional experience includes estate planning, corporate law, compliance law, guardianships, trademarks, probate, trust and probate litigation, including trust and will contests, administrative law, and consulting for business entities. Mr. Asbury has also lectured for NBI Seminars in the areas of Probate, Wills, Trusts, and Estates. Tom has also served on the Penn Admissions Committee for years as an alumni interviewer and is an international lecturer on the focus and philosophy of Ivy League admissions.


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