How do you communicate with clients and families?
We are easily available to our clients and family members by phone and e-mail, or for personal meetings as required. We have a 24 hour emergency number, should that be needed. We send out periodic statements of activity on the account. We have found that remaining responsive to our individual clients and their family members is the single most effective way to generate satisfaction with our services
How do you charge?
Our fees are hourly. A fee schedule is available.
Do you know about Medicaid, Medicare, SSI and similar programs?
We have extensive knowledge of public entitlements. We have acted as guardian for many individuals who require these programs and we have a lot of experience obtaining and maintaining eligibility for these programs. We administer many Special Needs Trusts which requires us to use trust funds creatively and in accord with the limits imposed by needs based entitlements, while effectively addressing the needs of the client. Some of the considerations involved in this work are set out here: Public Entitlements.
How many trusts do you administer?
We have approximately 450 trusts. The majority of these are Special Needs Trusts.
Are your financial reports understandable to an ordinary person?
Our ledgers are designed to be understandable. Some individuals initially require help understanding them. Ledger reports can be sent monthly, although most people prefer to receive them quarterly.
Can we be involved in how funds are spent?
We prefer to have input from the client and family on spending decisions. The final decision on such matters rests with the trustee.
How will we request funds for a particular item?
We like to establish an annual budget which in essence pre-approves certain spending. Disbursements may be requested by phone, letter or e-mail. We do require documentation of spending in the form of invoices, receipts and the like. We require advance approval by the trustee of spending.
Are you aware of the requirements of the court for reports?
We are very familiar with reporting requirements. We helped develop the model forms currently in use.
Are you audited?
We are audited annually by an independent auditor.
Do you have insurance or bonding?
Yes, we have Fiduciary Special Liability coverage through Lloyd’s of London.
The majority of our work is in matters in which we are directly supervised by the court. In individual cases, the court requires posting of a fiduciary bond and often requires accounts to be blocked such that a court order is required to gain access to the funds.
How does GSS go about making major purchases?
As with all spending from a trust, the Trustee has final responsibility for the prudence and appropriateness of the purchase decision and the cost. This burden is increased for more expensive items.
For house purchases, we like to know that the client will remain in the house for 5 years or so, that there are funds available for taxes, insurance and maintenance, that the client can afford any personal care needed to live independently; and generally that the purchase is in the best interests of the client, and appropriate under the terms of the trust. Ordinarily, the property is held as a trust asset. In close consultation with the client, the trustee chooses a real estate agent and provides parameters for the purchase such as price and location. The client and the agent look at properties, chose one within those parameters and the trustee negotiates the purchase.
For purchase of an automobile, GSS prefers to work through an independent broker who charges a flat transaction fee. A budget for the purchase is established by the trustee in consultation with the individual. The broker discusses preferences within this budget with the client, including any accessibility options that may be needed. The broker assists the client to identify a specific vehicle and the trustee completes the purchase. GSS assures that appropriate insurance is in place.
For purchases of major appliances we ordinarily discuss the purchase with the client, decide on a reasonable amount to spend, the client shops and make the specific choice. An invoice is sent to the trustee and is paid. If the client requires assistance from the trustee in any way, that is available.
Assistance is available in instances in which the individual, due to disability, needs assistance in selecting purchases that will have a significant impact and those in which personal tastes are a factor.