A story out of Seattle illustrates just how important it is to select a trustworthy trustee when establishing a special needs trust. There isn’t much to the story, but it is worth recapping just for its anecdotal value. The Seattle woman at the center of this story is 71-year-old Darlene Hobson, who was appointed trustee of a $65,000 special needs trust established for a woman who was supposed to be her friend. When her friend was admitted to the hospital, however, it is alleged that Ms. Hobson stole money from her friend’s special needs trust, made unauthorized credit card charges to her card, sold her car, and even stole her bed. Apparently Ms. Hobson believed that her friend would never recover, but she was mistaken.
As you can probably guess, Ms. Hobson’s “friend” was released from the hospital and returned home to find that she had essentially been robbed. Sadly, the culprit was her longtime friend, Ms. Hobson, whom she had appointed as trustee of her special needs trust. She believed she had selected somebody she could trust to care for her while she was vulnerable, but in fact had been a poor judge of character, to say the least. Fortunately, we do not see these types of cases with frequency, but it is good to be aware that they do occur. Having an awareness of what may happen is oftentimes the best incentive to make wise and thoughtful decisions.