Recently the Government announced that they would be setting up a Special Needs Trust in Hong Kong. This is expected to be in place around October 2018.

This is an affordable trust, with the Director of Social Welfare as trustee, specifically for Hong Kong residents with special needs. The trust provides financial security for them after their parents/ carers have passed away.

 

How can one join this Trust?

To participate the caregivers, with the help of the trustee and its case manager;

  • devise a care plan which sets out the expenditures needed
  • write a letter of intent appointing the caregiver who will succeed them and lay out how the trust fund should be disbursed after their passing and
  • transfer an amount of money (a small sum is fine) to set up the trust.

In addition, they execute a Will to transfer a substantial amount from their estate to go into the trust fund upon their death. This could include proceeds from the sale of property for example.

The Special Needs Trust funds are pooled and cautiously invested to preserve capital but the amounts for each beneficiary are, of course, segregated.

 

How does the Trust operate?

After the caregivers pass away, the trust is activated. The trust then makes regular distribution of funds to the succeeding caregiver appointed in the care plan. The case manager makes periodic visits to check that the dependent is being cared for as expected. Once the dependent passes, any surplus funds will be distributed according to the letter of intent.

This trust fund is not one that has fund contribution by monthly instalments. Caregivers are solely responsible for their money and investments. Also, there is no substantial fund contribution before their death. Life insurance can be channelled into the Trust by specifying the Social Welfare Department as the beneficiary.

It should also be noted that participation in the fund does not affect eligibility for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) and Social Security Allowance (SSA) including Disability Allowance and Old Age Living Allowance.

For more details on the Special Needs Trust, visit http://snt.support. The website is managed by Professor Lusina Ho and Associate Professor Rebecca Lee of the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong.