Welcome the Resource Page for SALSA’s National Compassion Fund (NCF) trust pro bono project! THANK YOU for taking a case and for assisting the Uvalde community during their recovery.
On this page you’ll find an overview of the National Compassion Fund Protocol, the Process for Referred Cases and instructions detailing how to assist the client in navigating the logistics of trust creation to receive funds for qualifying individuals eligible to under framework established by the National Compassion Fund, and Helpful Documents for your use during your representation.
All cases have been referred from our partners at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid after their Public Benefits team has reviewed them to make sure that no additional considerations are warranted because of the family’s receipt of public benefits. All cases that are referred to SALSA will be either designated as “no additional concerns” or “requiring Special Needs Trust” — attorney assignments will be made with this in mind. If you have a client that is receiving means-based public benefits (SNAP/TANF, etc.) there are resources on this page to help educate your client about the impact of disbursements from the trust.
Overview of National Compassion Fund Protocol
First, a quick overview of the NCF’s protocol (full document can be found HERE – note any changes to this original protocol are called out below on the Resource Page so please read the rest of the instructions). NCF has established classes depending on the individual’s specific location and/or interaction with the shooting, with each class to take a certain amount from the overall fund. A short description is provided below so you can orient yourself with the types of cases you’ll be seeing.
Class A: Application for Legal Heirs of the beloved 21 people killed
Class B: Individual Physical Injury Applications
Class C: Individuals Present in the West Wing Experiencing Psychological Trauma
Class D: Class and Funeral Home Workers Fired Upon
Class E: Individuals Present elsewhere on the Robb Elementary Campus
In an effort to ensure that funds paid to a minor victim are protected and used only for the care, support, and benefit of that minor victim, minor beneficiaries receiving payment under Categories A through D must have a trust for the benefit of the minor child to receive funds. Category E recipients need only have a Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) custodial account to receive funds.
We anticipate that most SALSA clients will fall into either category B, C or D.
Clients have to APPLY for these funds using a separate application by October 13th (something that they can find assistance with at the Resilience Center in Uvalde – more info on this below), but they have until November 4th to submit the completed trust paperwork. This is the primary deadline our cases will need to meet. More on this in the process instructions below.
Process for Referred Cases
- Cases will be assigned to a volunteer after a conflicts check is conducted.
- SALSA staff will send client information for you to run a conflict check. Please confirm with SALSA staff when conflicts check is complete.
- Once conflicts are cleared, SALSA will provide you with the SALSA case number and email for your records/use during representation.
- Client will fill out a limited pro bono engagement agreement.
- The client must sign and return a SALSA engagement letter, and that letter needs to be sent to SALSA’s case file to ensure that volunteers are covered by our insurance.
- Volunteers may modify the letter as to the scope of representation if necessary, or other issues, but should not remove any of the SALSA disclaimers or limitations included in the letter.
- Once it is signed and returned, the engagement letter can be sent to the case file by copying the case file e-mail address which is of the form: [case number]@sanantonio.legalserver.org (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). You can also forward any other documents, materials, or communications to this case file for safe-keeping.
- Attorney will be provided with client’s contact information so that they can begin the drafting process for the trust.
- Attorney should meet with the client by phone or video to gather the information needed to draft the trust document.
- The conversation with the client should also determine if the client or the child is receiving any public benefits (Medicaid, SSI, etc.). HHSC has created a comprehensive overview of how trusts can impact eligibility for benefits, so please review this with your client.
- As part of this meeting, the volunteer should advise the client that they must apply for NCF funds ASAP for each qualifying child if they have not already done so, but no later than October 13th. This is a separate application that they complete at the National Compassion Fund website, or through an NCF “Navigator.” Make sure to advise the client to entire the Trust Name as follows even if the trust has not been created yet: “[Child’s Name] Trust.” The trust name should be drafted using this naming framework.
- Separately, advise the client that the deadline for finalizing the trust and providing that information to NCF is November 4th. Everything must be completed and ready for deposit by that date, and deposits will be made in the weeks thereafter.
- Attorney drafts trust document.
- A form document is available, but it may be modified for specific needs of the client. The form was created based on specific requirements provided to us by NCF, and has been pre-approved as to form. If modifications are needed, note that the things that cannot be removed from the terms are: 1) irrevocability; 2) term lasting to at least age 21 of the child; and 3) purposes for which expenses are allowed, e.g. , health, safety, etc.
- The client may choose any trustee they want. This is a change from the original protocol which required a third-party managed trust. However, if the family receives SNAP or TANF benefits, the trust fund is likely to be considered an “available resource” for the household and potentially disqualify the household from receiving those benefits if the trustee is a member of the household. A non-household member can be chosen as a trustee to avoid this. If the client chooses to have themselves or another member of the household as trustee, they need to be advised about this potential loss of public benefits. Feel free to use the document located in Helpful Resources below that discusses how benefits are impacted when advising your client.
- The GRANTOR of the Trust is NCF.
- Notarization is available at the TRLA offices in Uvalde which are located at: 200 Evans Street, Uvalde, TX 78801.
- Follow-up with client to help obtain EIN/bank account.
- The volunteer should either instruct the client in how to get an EIN at irs.gov using the trustee’s information, or do that for the client.
- For EIN, you should indicate that the creation date for the trust is November 15, 2022. This is the official funding date for NCF.
- Once an EIN is created, the client will need to take the document to a bank of their choice to open the trust account. The client can use any bank they want, but SALSA/NCF has previously arranged for a waiver of minimum balance requirements for investment/brokerage accounts for Uvalde families at Raymond James, Edward Jones, and Broadway Bank, so clients should be advised about these options if they wish to invest the proceeds of the trust.
- Once the trust account is open, the account details should be added to the client’s application with NCF for funding.
- Send Trust to NCF for review (can be done while waiting for EIN/bank account if there is a time crunch to meet the November 4th deadline)
- Once the Trust Document is completed, it will be signed by the trustee and then sent to NCF for review and signing as the grantor (more on this below in NCF Process). The volunteer can do this by sending the document to Jeff@nationalcompassion.org, or instruct the client to do this through their Navigator with NCF. The trust should be named “[Child’s Name] Trust.”
- NCF Process:
- Trust Agreement is completed with name of child, name of trustee, and successor trustees
- Trustee executes trust agreement with notarized signature.
- Trust Agreement is scanned and emailed to NCF at Jeff@nationalcompassion.org (At least one of the Brokerages, Raymond James, is sending these to NCF directly in batches. A lawyer can send it to NCF or the trustee can also send it to NCF.) The banks and brokerage firms that NCF is working with (Broadway Bank, Raymond James, Edward Jones) are allowing applicants to open accounts with zero balances.
- If Trust agreement is received by NCF by November 4th, applicants will be paid the same time as others. If trust agreement is received after November 4th, they will be handled on a rolling basis.
- On November 7th, the NCF steering committee will approve a distribution plan and we will know how much each person will be paid. NCF will then complete Schedule A on the amount funding the trust, and will execute, notarize and return to trustee. Some financial institutions want a copy of the completed trust agreement, others do not. Whomever sends the agreement to NCF should also tell NCF who wants an executed copy.
- Notify SALSA that cases has been closed and provide case closure information to client.
- Once the final information is provided to NCF, representation is completed. Advise SALSA that the case is completed either by e-mail, or by completing a case closure form at sa-lsa.org.
- Provide the following documents to the client (all under Helpful Documents):
- Client Case Closure Information Sheet
- Guide for Trustees
- HHSC Donation Policy
- Note: We’ve also included an overview for your use regarding how common public benefits are impacted by trust disbursements. Please feel free to utilize this document when advising your client.
- Please notify the client that they are responsible for filing a separate tax return as a trustee and that they can learn more about this form on the IRS website (https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-1041).
- Pre-approved as to form by NCF; can modify but cannot remove 1) irrevocability; 2) term lasting to at least age 21 of the child; and 3) purposes for which expenses are allowed, e.g. , health, safety, etc.
Client Case Closure Information Sheet
- This letter explains the end of representation and gives an overview of the other guidance documents that will be provided to the client.
- Our partners at Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) created a “Guide for Trustees” to help explain the duties and responsibilities of a trustee to the client. Volunteers should explain these duties as best they can, but be clear that SALSA and the volunteer are NOT representing the trustee in any on-going way.
HHSC Donation Policy for Public Assistance Programs
- This handout is an overview of the impact of donations on HOUSEHOLD eligibility for Public Assistance Program, including the impact of disbursements from the irrevocable trust. Please share this with your client in the event that they become a recipient of any of these public assistance programs.
Overview of Impact of Irrevocable Trusts on Common Public Benefits
- This handout addresses how money in irrevocable trusts interacts with common public benefits. This document was created for VOLUNTEER USE in advising clients who may have questions about specific benefits.
Protecting and Maximizing Public Benefits article by H. Clyde Farrell & Christina Lesher