What is a Trust?
A Trust is a legal entity created by an attorney for an individual (called a grantor) to hold and eventually distribute their assets. As a legal entity, a Trust has greater flexibility than a Will and has uses beyond estate planning. Trusts are commonly used to provide for a person’s own needs in later life and then to direct the transfer of legacy assets to family members or other beneficiaries. Trusts are also created for charitable giving and for beneficiaries with special needs who will require support throughout their lifetime.
The most common trust in estate plans is a Revocable or Living Trust. As the name implies, a living grantor with legal capacity may modify or cancel this trust and freely add or remove assets. Irrevocable Trusts are another common type of trust which can be more restrictive but may have greater tax advantages and legal protections for the Grantor.
Trust law is complex, but variations of the two primary types of trusts can provide solutions for many unique situations. Once any type of trust is created by an attorney, the work has just begun.
How does a trust work?
Every trust requires the appointment of a trustee that is authorized to manage the affairs of the trust. The selection of a trustee is crucial because, in many cases, this party will largely control the trust after the grantor is deceased. The grantor relies on (trusts) the trustee to faithfully carryout his/her wishes as written, and in compliance with all laws and regulations. This legal and ethical duty makes the trustee a fiduciary.
Thus, expert trusteeship and trust administration can help assure the effectiveness of a trust. Many grantors appoint individuals (often family members) as trustee but this is not without hazards, as these individuals may not be aware of their duties as a fiduciary. Others appoint a professional, corporate trustee. Some may appoint co-trustees, where one trustee is a family member and the other is a professional, corporate trustee.
This latter arrangement is one we generally recommend, allowing a trusted family member to work with us as the professional trustee, thereby ensuring compliance with all fiduciary elements of the trust.
The many benefits of using a corporate, professional trustee include expert trust knowledge, continuity and depth of understanding beyond having a single individual as trustee, and an infrastructure for proper trust accounting, tax reporting and compliance. Additionally, the oversight and regular examination provided by state and federal agencies assures that the corporate trustee will act with impartiality in family matters and provide support and guidance when needed for the family member co-trustee.
How Plimoth Investment Advisors Can Help
At Plimoth Investment Advisors we can serve effectively as a sole trustee, a co-trustee, or a successor trustee, working with our clients to ensure professional fiduciary oversight of all trust accounts. We work collaboratively with your other trusted professionals including attorneys and accountants to form an effective team on your behalf.
In a trust relationship, not only will you benefit from our broad investment capabilities, but you will have the confidence of knowing that your trust is being administered faithfully by professionals who are highly experienced in this specialized area.
We would be pleased to discuss your specific trust situation or your goals for a new trust.