WisPACT, the Wisconsin Pooled and Community Trust Program
Jack Longert, executive director, Wisconsin Pooled and Community Trust program.
Are you an attorney who works with disabled clients? Do you encounter situations where your client faces the dilemma of either accepting assets or retaining eligibility for a means-tested government benefits program? That situation is not uncommon for disabled individuals.
If your client is receiving Supplemental Security Income or Medical Assistance or both, and becomes eligible for spousal maintenance, child support, or a personal injury or worker’s compensation award, then your client will face this dilemma.
To resolve this dilemma favorably so your client can continue to receive government benefits while having access to supplemental assets, consider turning to WisPACT, the Wisconsin Pooled and Community Trust organization.
WisPACT offers and administers special needs trusts and has features that help many people who would not otherwise consider a special needs trust. Assets that would not be considered “exempt” under government assistance programs are deemed exempt by federal and state government administrative rules when deposited in WisPACT.
WisPACT was formed in 2003 through the efforts of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Elder Law Section in conjunction with disability advocacy organizations. WisPACT is the only statewide organization offering special needs trusts regardless of the trust beneficiary’s type of disability.
Some WisPACT trust account features are as follows:
The trust documents are already prepared with attorneys needing only to fill in the blanks with their clients’ information. WisPACT has negotiated the language with the state and federal governments, ensuring that all assets in the accounts will not count towards means-tested government benefits programs.
Assets in all accounts are pooled together and invested by a knowledgeable corporate trustee, Associated Wealth Management. This method of investment allows for individual accounts to have lower fees due to economies of scale, and allows for family members to be free of the burdens of investments. WisPACT’s investment performance has exceeded the performance of the market as a whole in each year of WisPACT’s operation.
WisPACT is a nonprofit organization, which further lowers costs and enhances its charitable mission for its beneficiaries.
Accounts can be started with as little as $750 in a funded account; or can be unfunded if a third party wishes to start an account for a beneficiary only at the third party’s death;
WisPACT has knowledgeable and caring employees who work with beneficiaries and their loved ones in setting up of trust accounts and in distributing trust asset. The goal is to maintain eligibility for public benefits while enhancing the quality of the beneficiary’s life through timely and significant trust distributions.
WisPACT has no age restrictions for setting up self-funded trusts. It also allows third-party trusts to be set up with assets that can be passed on to other heirs at the beneficiary’s death.
WisPACT has experienced significant growth, with more than 500 funded trust accounts and more than 250 unfunded accounts since its inception. WisPACT trust accounts allow individuals with disabilities to live independently in their communities, and free family members from investment responsibilities.
This popular program also is used by people with disabilities who do not receive means-tested government assistance.
WisPACT employees are available to speak with you or your client directly, and to groups of individuals who have disabilities and their advocates. Go to their website for more information.
Jack Longert, Illinois 1978, is the executive director of WisPACT, the Wisconsin Pooled and Community Trust organization. He has supervised U.W. clinical law students, worked as an attorney in legal assistance programs for poor people, and managed a men’s homeless shelter.