Alongside the RDSP, trusts provide a way for families and individuals to build savings and manage assets. Trusts are managed by trustees and are set up for the benefit of an individual.
Currently, there are 2 types of trusts allowable under BC’s Ministry of Social Development (MSD) regulations: discretionary and non-discretionary trusts.
Discretionary trusts are controlled by trustee(s) and the beneficiary does not have a say in how the money is spent. There is no limit to discretionary trusts.
Non-discretionary trusts are co-controlled by the beneficiary and trustee(s). There is a lifetime contribution limit of $100,000.
There are regulations on money withdrawn from a trust. Funds withdrawn must be used for the following:
- Devises or medical aids to improve health or well-being
- Caregiver or other disability-related expenses
- Education or training
- Necessary maintenance on a home
- Renovations to make a home more accessible
- Independent living- up to $5,484 for living expenses
Any additional funds or funds not approved for the above purposes are not considered exempt and may impact disability benefits.
Trusts are a valuable tool for families and individuals to use in planning for the future and securing an asset. Trusts are especially valuable for individuals who may need financial oversight and protection from unscrupulous people. However, for the asset to function as lever towards financial security, family and individual control and discretion is key.
The RDSP provides a model that trusts can adopt. PLAN’s recommendation is to:
Harmonize the treatment of trusts with the RDSP by increasing the asset limit to $200,000 and encouraging individual and family discretion on how trusts are spent
Harmonizing regulations governing trusts with those governing Registered Disability Savings Plans, accomplishes the following:
- The system becomes more equitable
- Administration is simplified and reduced
- Planning for individuals and families is simplified
- The authority of individuals and families to make their own decisions is recognized
- British Columbia leads provinces in encouraging families to assure the financial security of their relatives with disabilities.