advocacy wealth
Advocacy Wealth Management’s Thomas Johnson explains Trust services designed to conserve settlement funds.

Nearly all survivors of a serious injury have special needs, perhaps none more so than those with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Some of the challenges that present themselves both to the injured person with a TBI and to the injured person’s family are:

  • Gaps in knowledge or memory;
  • Unpredictable behavior including impulsiveness and rage;
  • Predatory relatives or “friends”;
  • Inability to manage activities of daily living.

At Advocacy Wealth Management, we believe that it is crucial to understand the family dynamics around all of our injured clients. For a person with TBI, in particular, we want to have a clear answer as to whether our injured client needs protection from himself, family, or friends. In our practice, the answer is almost always yes.

Given that our client may live a very long life, our role then becomes to protect and conserve his or her settlement so that it can enhance the client’s quality of life, for life. In many cases, we will recommend that a trust be included in the overall settlement plan with language in the trust document that protects the client from himself, family, and friends.

If public benefits, such as Medicaid, are paying for custodial care and ongoing medical needs, we will likely recommend a Special Needs Trust (SNT). An SNT can hold the settlement funds for the well-being of the injured while preserving the benefits Medicaid offers over the injured person’s lifetime. Upon the termination of the trust either during life or upon death, Medicaid has first claim on any assets that remain in the trust up to the total amount of Medicaid benefits paid to care for the injured person during life.

Another kind of trust we recommend, if an SNT is not warranted, is an irrevocable asset protection trust. We usually recommend Tennessee, which has excellent laws that protect trust assets against creditors (and predators), as the situs for an asset protection trust. When settlement funds are placed in this kind of trust, money can only be distributed under the terms and conditions in the trust document. Those terms and conditions allow the trust officer to say ”no” to the beneficiary, when necessary, which empowers the beneficiary to say “no” to family and friends.

TBI survivors can be challenging to serve due to the effects of their injuries. At Advocacy, we have highly trained and very experienced trust officers, planners and family office representatives to guide the injured person when making decisions. We consider the client’s best interests at all times first and how the trust is designed to protect our client. We help our clients obtain shelter, locate transportation, settle their debts, improve their credit, and live within a budget. We design income-producing portfolios that conserve settlement funds while serving the special needs of that client. Advocacy’s commitment to our client is for life.