Strong and lasting relationships give Trust Point clients confidence in their financial future.
Estate planning can be challenging in the best of times, as it requires tough decisions that will make a lasting impact, not to mention coming to grips with your own mortality.
For Cathy Erickson, a single mother battling late-stage pancreatic cancer the pressure has been even greater. Her daughter, Maggie Kilgannon, 29, has Down syndrome and will depend largely on the financial footings, including a supplemental needs trust, established by Cathy to ensure a stable future.
Cathy looked to Trust Point roughly a year ago for help and has since developed a strong relationship with Julie Westbrock, JD, Vice President of Development, who has guided her through the planning process.
“We have had very personalized services, and when I need further information and direction, Julie has always been very thorough and prompt,” Cathy says. “And Julie has had such interest in Maggie and invited her to join us for a meeting, which makes the planning so personal and detailed.”
From Referral to Relationship
Cathy found Trust Point after a referral from her estate planning attorney. Fighting stage-four pancreatic cancer, she knew it was important to find a financial partner she could depend on.
The Twin Cities resident liked the local feel of Trust Point and the confidence level from her attorney. She ultimately decided to transition all of her assets to the company.
“Once I met Julie and began gathering information and meeting other team members, it all felt very right for both management of my current portfolio and eventual management of trust transactions,” Cathy says.
Westbrock has spent the last year not only meeting with Cathy, but also with Maggie and other family members. Part of the process has involved establishing a successor for Cathy—someone who will work with Trust Point on trust management and distributions moving forward. The family is still working on making that designation, but other big changes have taken place during the process.
Maggie’s partner, Aidan Kilgannon, 26, proposed to her in June and the couple had a commitment ceremony in September.
Though managing the family’s finances is Westbrock’s priority, she has also developed a strong connection to Cathy. Those bonds are common among Trust Point clients and advisors.
“While the initial meeting with Cathy was about information gathering, in subsequent meetings the personal part of the relationship started to evolve,” Westbrock says. “It’s been fun through-out Maggie’s engagement to feel like a part of the family.”
Ensuring a Bright Future
The trust established for Maggie is a supplemental needs trust, also called a third-party special needs trust, which Cathy is funding. This type of trust supplements benefits provided by government programs, so Maggie will still qualify for public assets. Those resources, along with her income from work at the Dakota County courthouse and in guest services for the Minnesota Twins, should set her up for a worry-free financial future.
“Maggie will have the need for supplemental funds outside of her earnings and other financial benefits she receives through Social Security, and will not be able to manage the decision making involved without support,” Cathy says. “The financial planning to preserve the funds in the appropriate type of trust and have management and support as well as checks and balances—these were all vital to my decision making.”
Cathy was proud to be at the commitment ceremony for her daughter. But when the time comes that she can’t be there, Cathy says she’s confident Maggie’s future will be bright.
“Maggie will be very financially secure,” Cathy says. “She will have professional advocacy and decision making from Trust Point regarding use of the funds while I, or a future guardian, will have confidence that we are following the scope of the rules for the supplemental needs trust.”
Selecting a Special Needs Trust
A special needs trust can go a long way toward enhancing a disabled individual’s quality of life. There are two types of special needs trusts to consider:
First-Party Special Needs Trust
This type of trust is funded with assets owned outright by the disabled beneficiary. First-party special needs trusts are most commonly used when a disabled person inherits money or property, or receives a personal injury or medical malpractice settlement. This type of trust has to include a provision that any assets remaining at the beneficiary’s death be used to pay the state Medicaid agency for benefits received.
Third-Party Special Needs Trust
Also known as a supplemental needs trust, this is funded with assets that belonged to someone other than the disabled individual. As was done for Maggie Kilgannon, this type of trust is commonly used to plan in advance for someone with special needs. They can be included in a will, established within a living trust, or set up independently.