How do you communicate with clients and families?
We are easily available to our clients and family members by phone and e-mail, or for personal meetings as required. In case of emergencies, we have a 24-hour emergency number. We send out periodic statements of activity on the account and can adapt to our client's communication requirements. We have found that remaining responsive to our individual clients and their family members is the single most effective way to generate satisfaction with our services.
How do you charge?
Our fees are charged at an hourly rate a vary by service. A fee schedule is available.
Do you know about Medicaid, Medicare, SSI and similar benefit programs?
We have extensive knowledge of public entitlements. We act as guardian for many individuals who require these programs and we have extensive experience obtaining and maintaining eligibility for them. We administer a large number of Special Needs Trusts which require us to use trust funds creatively and in accordance with the limits imposed by needs-based entitlements, while effectively addressing the needs of the client.
How many trusts do you administer?
We have approximately 550 trusts of various different types with a broad range of specifications.
Are your financial reports easily understood?
Our ledgers are designed to be clear and transparent for the broad range of clients and other interested parties we serve. Some individuals may initially require help understanding them. Ledger reports can be sent monthly, although generally, people prefer to receive them quarterly.
Can we be involved in how funds are spent?
We welcome and prefer to have input from the client and family on spending decisions, although the final decision on such matters rests with the trustee.
How will we request funds for a particular item?
We like to establish an annual budget which in essence pre-approves certain spending. Disbursements may be requested by phone, letter or email. We do require documentation of spending in the form of invoices, receipts, or other pertinent information. We do require advance approval by the trustee before spending.
Are you aware of the requirements of the court for reports?
We are very familiar with reporting requirements and helped develop the model forms currently in use.
Are you audited?
We are audited periodically by our regulatory agency, the State of Washington Department of Financial Institutions and annually by an independent external auditor.
Do you have insurance or bonding?
Yes, we have Fiduciary Special Liability coverage through Lloyd’s of London. The majority of our work is in matters in which we are directly supervised by the court. In individual cases, the court requires posting of a fiduciary bond and often requires accounts to be blocked such that a court order is required to gain access to the funds.
How does GSS go about making major purchases?
As with all spending from a trust, the trustee has final responsibility for the prudence and appropriateness of the purchase decision and the cost. For large purchases such as property, vehicles, tuition, or other major expenditures, GSS has instituted policies and procedures to ensure that to the extent possible, all considerations are made to on-going or associated costs (maintenance, insurance, care, etc.) while keeping the client’s needs and wants at the forefront of our work. Assistance is available in instances in which the individual needs assistance in selecting purchases that will have a significant impact and those in which personal tastes are a factor.
For house purchases, we like to know that the client will remain in the house for 5 years or so, that there are funds available for taxes, insurance and maintenance, that the client can afford any personal care needed to live independently; and generally that the purchase is in the best interests of the client, and appropriate under the terms of the trust. Ordinarily, the property is held as a trust asset. In close consultation with the client, the trustee chooses a real estate agent and provides parameters for the purchase such as price and location. The client and the agent look at properties, chose one within those parameters and the trustee negotiates the purchase.
For purchase of an automobile, GSS prefers to work through an independent broker who charges a flat transaction fee. A budget for the purchase is established by the trustee in consultation with the individual. The broker discusses preferences within this budget with the client, including any accessibility options that may be needed. The broker assists the client to identify a specific vehicle and the trustee completes the purchase. GSS assures that appropriate insurance is in place.
For purchases of major appliances we ordinarily discuss the purchase with the client, decide on a reasonable amount to spend, the client shops and make the specific choice. An invoice is sent to the trustee and is paid. If the client requires assistance from the trustee in any way, that is available.
Assistance is available in instances in which the individual, due to disability, needs assistance in selecting purchases that will have a significant impact and those in which personal tastes are a factor.