Current Trustee for a Family Member

The life of a family member trustee can be a tough one – the mountains of administration, the awkward and possibly contentious conversations with your family members, and the stress of managing your families’ assets.  As a professional trustee, we can take the things out of your life that cause you stress, and allow you to focus on what is really important – being a member of your family again.

The decision to employ a professional trustee can be a complex one. How do you know if you really need a professional trustee? How will you and your family benefit from this? What will this cost you? We have found individuals repeatedly ask the same questions when making this decision and below is a helpful guide.

Q:

How do I know if I am doing well as a trustee?

A:
  • You and your family members have a mutual respect and sense of cohesion/inclusion when you are together.
  • You can show solid investment performance to the rest of your family and answer their questions, particularly in a down market.
  • Your family and the IRS are satisfied with your financial and tax reporting each year.
  • You enjoy your role as trustee as it gives you a meaningful sense of value and accomplishment.
Q:

How will I know if I am doing something wrong?

A:
  • You have not sent out any reporting to your family member for a long time.
  • You can’t say no to a family member about a request you know is wrong.
  • You find yourself procrastinating on getting things done.
  • You avoid making decisions.
  • You don’t regularly inspect the trust's home or property in which a beneficiary lives.

When things get really bad, the signs become even more obvious and adversarial:

  • Your family members have hired lawyers to fight each other or you
  • Annual accountings are not or have not been prepared and sent to all beneficiaries
  • Federal and/or state tax reporting is insufficient or inaccurate
  • You find you have no “Errors & Omissions" insurance, and your insurance agent tells you that you are personally responsible for your actions as trustee.
Q:

What if I am managing this trust correctly, but just not enjoying the experience?

A:

We meet a lot of trustees for family members’ that are diligent in their role, but are facing some real challenges.  You might be experiencing some of the following:

  • Relational discord in your family which could include:
    • Family members are showing signs of jealousy or suspicion
    • There are no feelings of trust, peace or love
    • Friction is ever-present in the family
    • Silence on all matters regarding the trust
    • A family member saying things like, “I didn’t know about that”, regarding a major trust transaction.
  • The task of trust management becomes really challenging when:
    • The assets in your trust are highly complex and you are unsure of the best way to manage them
    • You feel overwhelmed with the task and have the feeling you are not sure what to do as trustee.
    • You are so busy taking care of trust issues that you don’t have time for your own family.
    • You don’t like your job.
Q:

What options do I have for making the management of this trust better?

A:
  • Remain as trustee
  • Hire other professionals to help with tasks including proper trust accounting, investment management, litigation, and tax return preparation.
  • Make another family member the trustee.
  • Hire a professional trustee who could act as;
    • an agent,
    • a  co-trustee, or
    • a full trustee.
Q:

If I hired Northwest Trustee & Management Services, what would the process look like?

A:
  • We would first meet with you and listen
  • If you are facing sensitive family dynamics we would work with you to develop a plan allowing us to become an objective voice.  We have a proven track record of dealing with difficult family situations with dignity and compassion.
  • We would work with you and your advisors to ensure professional management of all assets.  We have extensive experience in managing complex asset mixes with diligence.
  • On a practical level, we  will:
    • Review all documents, any ongoing litigation, and any other issues.
    • Meet with you and your professional advisors and create an investment plan
    • Take on the management of all aspects of the trust as stated in the trust document
    • Send out clear and timely financial statements so that all beneficiaries can monitor the performance of the trust
Q:

Do I have to give up my financial advisor and attorney if I work with you?

A:

No, we work with your advisors and join the team of people who you have chosen.  If you don’t have an investment advisor, we have long standing relationships with many local and regional advisors and will select one with you.

 

Q:

How can I justify spending money on a professional trustee when I am doing it now for free?

A:

While most people name a family member as their trustee in order to save money our experience has proven that a well-managed trust increases in value far beyond the cost of trustee fees. Professional trust management ensures peace of mind and frees you up to focus on the relationships within your own family

We are happy to discuss our fees during an initial meeting.

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