Since 1995 our firm has counseled clients on estate planning, with an underlying premise being that easing the transition after a loss of a loved one is a meaningful gift to family and friends.
As part of their estate plans, many clients choose to establish trusts. There are many kinds of trusts, but the basic concept of any trust is simple: a person (the settlor or grantor) entrusts assets to one person or entity (the trustee) to be held “in trust” for the benefit of another or multiple other persons (the beneficiary or beneficiaries.) Trusts are a sound and long-established estate planning tool with many benefits.
However, with a trust come duties. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to administer the trust according its terms for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. That can entail everything from big picture decisions—like investing trust assets, making distributions to beneficiaries, and hiring professional advisors–to day-to-day details like balancing trust checking accounts, paying bills, and making sure trust assets are properly insured. While being named a trustee is often an honor – essentially being selected by the settlor as a most trusted advisor – it can also be a thankless and time-consuming job.
Whether you are a settlor establishing a trust or you’ve been named and are serving as a trustee, if you have concerns about the complexities and demands of trusteeship, you may be interested in the trustee services our firm offers. Many clients don’t want a professional trustee that (1) doesn’t have a personal relationship with the client or the client’s family, (2) may require all funds to be moved to the trustee’s bank, and (3) may take a significant percentage of the estate as a fee. Most clients want family members or trusted friends or advisors to act as trustee, not an institution. But that can overlook the amount of work required of a trustee – burdens an institution might be better equipped to bear.
Sanford, Pierson, Thone & Strean offers a solution. We believe we are in a unique position that allows us to provide services to the trustee that include expert legal advice and administrative services along with a direct relationship to the family members involved. With the trustee retaining control and signing authority, we offer a comprehensive list of trustee services to support and assist the trustee which can be tailored to suit each client’s unique situation: from advising and training the trustee on how to administer the trust, to being the complete trustee services provider.
Our trustee service offerings include:
- Trust Administration Training
- Expense Management
- Collection of Monthly Benefits
- Check Writing (the Trustee remains as the authorized signatory)
- Purchase and Sale Agreements
- Coordinating, Managing and/or Recommending Vendors
- Property Maintenance
- Real Estate Agents
- Financial Advisors
Sanford, Pierson, Thone & Strean is able to help with managing the trust to any level the client desires. The assistance we can provide a trustee through our trust services will help ensure compliance with the terms of the trust and proper discharge of the trustee’s fiduciary duties. Perhaps equally as important, we can help ease the burden on a loved one and establish a relationship that gives everyone involved confidence that the grantor’s wishes are being carried out faithfully. We like to think of it as the trustee’s executive assistant. The flexibility of services we offer, our attention to detail, our legal expertise and our relationship with the client and the client’s family make Sanford, Pierson, Thone & Strean’s trustee services the right option for many people.