Trusts are a common estate-planning tool used for tax planning, preserving legacies, transferring wealth, and caring for loved ones’ current and future needs. Who you select as trustee defines your trust’s ability to achieve these goals.
Partner Susan Hartley Moss has more than 30 years of experience helping clients successfully establish trusts as part of their estate plans. Her video series outlines the key factors to consider before creating a trust and choosing a trustee who can balance their fiduciary responsibilities with your unique circumstances.
The motivation for seeking professional advice often centers around a family’s desire to:
Over the next 30 years, $16 trillion of wealth is expected to transfer to the next generation. These individuals want more control over their trust investments while maintaining the core trust structure. Their needs, coupled with the current estate-tax exemptions, have created an uptick in demand for modern and flexible trusts.
Putting the proper estate planning structures in place involves asking questions that go beyond the potential tax implications.
On the surface, it may appear your estate plan has accomplished your objectives, such as successfully transferring your business to the next generation. However, a closer examination may reveal the plan failed to keep the family together and focused on the core mission. Work with an advisor who specializes in both estate and legacy planning to help you avoid these issues.
How do you create a succession plan that keeps family harmony, perpetuates your business and successfully transfers wealth to the next generation? It starts with these questions.
Directed trusts are the most popular modern trusts because they separate administrative, investment and distribution responsibilities. A directed trustee oversees the administration of the trust, but the investment committee handles all investment decisions. Additionally, the distribution committee manages income and principal distributions to beneficiaries. This approach ensures no one person has control over the entire trust.
Modern directed trusts offer families many benefits, including:
Family members are usually the first ones to pop into people’s heads when selecting a trustee. However, interests are better served by naming an independent trustee who can mitigate family conflicts. Here are five considerations for selecting an independent trustee:
Family businesses add a layer of complexity to estate planning. Many families fail in the transition, which can lead to costly litigation and the enterprise’s demise. An independent trustee can help you navigate the non-tax issues, including governance, conflicts of interest and the long-term effects on the next generation.
Rarely does one advisor have all the expertise necessary to manage the complexities of trusts involving family businesses—the financials, governance and emotional family discussions. You want to work with a financial advisor who embraces collaboration and is willing to bring in the experts best suited to create a truly comprehensive plan.
Choosing a family member or friend as trustee may be the “comfortable” choice. But it’s often not the right one. These individuals typically don’t understand the breadth of their responsibilities. They have to make decisions about inheritances, distributions, communications and investments. All of which can cause beneficiaries to question their motives and objectivity. Hiring an independent trustee can help you avoid these conflicts.
The best trustee for you is the one who has the knowledge and expertise to help your family prosper. They should help you successfully navigate the common pitfalls, assist with trust creation and execution. The last thing you want is for your written estate plan to turn into a major family conflict because of poor governance.
As discussed in previous videos, family members and friends often don’t fully grasp what’s involved with serving as trustee and being a named fiduciary. This lack of understanding can lead to personal liability, family conflicts and litigation. Independent trustees and directed trusts that divide responsibilities amongst several parties can help you mitigate these risks.
Learn why Susan says being a trusted advisor is her “calling” and her motivation for helping others.
Build a trust that achieves your goals and provides for your family’s future.