Managing Personal Residence to Meet the Needs of the Beneficiary

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

We have many trusts which include the residence of the trust beneficiary.  As Trustee, our responsibilities include:

  • Paying taxes and maintaining property insurance
  • Preserving the value of the home through regular maintenance
  • Making sure the home is safe and habitable
  • Making sure the home meets the physical and emotional needs of the beneficiary

We regularly inspect property to assess its condition, safety and maintenance requirements.  As an example, when we received Agatha’s home in trust, it had peeling exterior paint, a broken fence, a broken window, a damaged garage door and a host of other problems.  In general, the home was rundown and poorly maintained.  We made needed repairs and provided her with a home she could enjoy and in which she could feel a sense of pride.

Homes often need remodeling to accommodate physical challenges.  In Ellen’s case, the construction of a ramp to accommodate her walker was adequate.  However, in Eric’s case, extensive remodeling included construction of a special shower and a lift attached to ceiling tracks which allowed him to be transferred from room to room.  

Habitability can be subjective.  Jim, who is marginally developmentally disabled, was living in an old farmhouse.   When we visited, we discovered rooms full of junk and trash and generally unsanitary conditions.  Jim was comfortable in his home and felt threatened by change.  With sensitive negotiation, Jim came to see that some modifications could increase his safety and wellbeing.  A general contractor was hired to remove some of the junk, repaint the walls, replace floor coverings, replace faulty wiring and make minor repairs.  Jim reverted to his former habits and we continued to make repairs and provide for his safety in the home. 

As Trustee, we are careful not to impose our standards on our clients unless it becomes a health or safety risk.  We understand that our role as Trustee is to ensure that residences are well maintained and safe in order to increase the beneficiary’s enjoyment of the home.

Print Date:  Fall 2007