Pay Dirt is Slate’s money advice column. I have a question? Send it to Lillian, Athena, and Elizabeth here. (It’s anonymous!)
Dear Pai Dirt,
I receive Social Security because of my disability. And I have a special needs trust. I get help from my parents in managing money. But when they die (I know they won’t live forever) it will be brother and sister.
I don’t like this sibling. No other family, we asked. My financial people who help with trust money say that the person hired will not do as good a job as my sibling and I will end up paying a lot for services that will not be as good as my sibling can do. Can you trust your money to someone who is not a good person at heart/morally, but who is very good with money? (They are very ethical with money. Just not with abusive words.) I know that having this problem means that I am very, very lucky compared to most people with disabilities. But I also don’t know what to do.
— Very happy, very stressed
Dear, very happy, very stressed,
No one wants someone who is mean to them to be in charge of their money. Maybe you can meet your parents and siblings Now to make rules about how your sibling talks to you. If they are willing to help with your trust, they may be willing to follow through yours rules about respect and not saying offensive things. Talk to your parents while they are still alive so that your sibling understands how your sibling’s words hurt you.
The good news is that your sibling is must be ethical with your money. There are specific laws about how someone in charge of a special needs trust (the trustee) must act. They have to make decisions in yours best interest, which is called fiduciary responsibility. If your sibling is not willing to be nice to you, you can hire a professional to do the job. A professional trustee will also have to follow the same fiduciary rules, but will charge you money. But if they respect you more than your sibling, their compensation might be worth avoiding an unkind person controlling your money.
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