Why Name a Corporate Trustee?
Choosing a trustee is one of the most important decisions you will make when establishing a trust, and must be done carefully.
A trustee is one who holds legal title to property “in trust” for the benefit of another person, and who is required to carry out specific duties with regard to the property, or who has been given power affecting the disposition of property for another’s benefit.
A trustee is a fiduciary of the trust beneficiaries—meaning the trustee has a legal duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, in accordance with the terms of the trust. Depending on the nature of your trust, the trustee may be required to perform a number of wide-ranging and complex duties, including:
It is common for someone who has established a trust to name themselves as trustee during their lifetimes. They often appoint their spouse, a friend, or family member as the successor trustee to assume the responsibility upon their incapacity or death.
However, naming a family member as trustee or successor trustee has the potential to create unexpected problems over time. Even financially sophisticated individuals can find administering and managing a trust to be a complex and difficult experience. It can also place family members at the center of disputes over the interpretation of the trust and how it should be managed.
Advantages of a Corporate Trustee
Appointing an impartial corporate trustee offers several important advantages:
Objectivity and Reliability
A family member may have emotional or personal ties to beneficiaries. A corporate trustee is regulated by state and federal agencies and will follow your instructions without many of the potential personal conflicts that a relative or friend is likely to face. Further, corporate trustees do not become ill, die, go on vacation, move away, or become distracted by personal concerns, and will be available to serve you and your beneficiaries over the long term.
Experience and Professionalism
Trust administration requires a thorough understanding of many regulations and procedures. These responsibilities can be overwhelming for a family member or other appointee, particularly during demanding periods in their lives. On the other hand, corporate trustees are in the business of managing trusts and estates and have the seasoned trust specialists and technology necessary to perform their trustee responsibilities. They also have experience with a wide variety of complex assets and access to professional investment managers who use sophisticated tools to establish an appropriate investment objective and manage the assets efficiently.
Even when naming a corporate trustee to manage your trust, there are ways to keep your family involved, either by appointing a family member as co-trustee in conjunction with the corporate trustee, or granting your beneficiaries the power to remove and replace the corporate trustee at any time.
Is a Corporate Trustee Expensive?
A corporate trustee will only begin to charge a fee when they start to act on the individual’s behalf. Although an individual family member or friend rarely charges a fee to serve as trustee of your trust, there is a high likelihood that financial, legal, and other specialized professionals will need to be consulted during the life of your trust. These professional service fees are charged directly against the trust and can be considerable.
Evaluating a Corporate Trustee
Your Financial Advisor or estate planning professional can assist you in the process of evaluating corporate trustees. The following list of questions and considerations is a good place to start when deciding whom to appoint as your trustee.
Why Name a Corporate Trustee?
In summary, a corporate trustee brings three main benefits:
Ensure your trust is administered objectively and reliably
Unlike a relative or friend, a corporate trustee is regulated by state and federal agencies and will follow the instructions of your trust without emotional conflict of interest or the risk of becoming distracted or incapacitated.
Receive professional financial service
Corporate trustees have the knowledge, experience, and technology necessary to perform their responsibilities with expertise and care including all aspects of trust administration and management of the trust’s investments.
Maintain family control of your estate
When naming a corporate trustee you can still ensure family control by appointing a family member as co-trustee or giving your beneficiaries the power to remove and replace the corporate trustee at any time.
Enhancing your loved ones’ long-term financial security by establishing a trust requires careful planning. You need to consider your current needs as well as what you hope to accomplish with your wealth and the values you would like to pass along to future generations. When you name the right corporate trustee, you can feel assured that your financial affairs will be treated with the utmost respect and professionalism.
To learn how we can help you and your family manage your trust, contact a Wintrust Wealth Management professional.
Where will your financial journey take you? A Financial Advisor helps you navigate the terrain, avoid pitfalls, and keep you on track to achieve your financial goals.