The responsibilities of the Trustee of a Henson Trust are different from those of an Estate Trustee in a number of ways and when appointing a Trustee of a Henson Trust a settlor should consider the following key factors:
A Settlor should have absolute trust in the trustee, or consider putting in place safeguards, such as multiple trustees required to act jointly, or a professional trustee. Trust is a paramount concern because:
A Henson Trust is a specialized trust designed as one piece of a larger plan for the financial security of a person with a disability. The Trustee needs to understand the complexity of the situation, including:
There is a lot of work involved in managing a Henson Trust including:
Vigilance, organization, timeliness, and commitment to these responsibilities is imperative to ensuring ODSP benefits are not interrupted, the testamentary trust status of the trust is preserved, funds are not depleted and most importantly the safety, security and happiness of the Beneficiary is not jeopardized.
Another factor that can affect commitment is the proximity of the Trustee to the Beneficiary. Ideally a Trustee would reside within an easy distance of the Beneficiary. At the very least the Trustee should reside in Canada, as there are tax considerations which make out of country trustee appointments undesirable.
A Henson Trust is generally established for the life of the Beneficiary. In other words, the Trust will last as long as the Beneficiary is alive and there are funds remaining in the trust. The age and life expectancy of the Beneficiary and prospective Trustees are therefore key considerations.