Staying in Charge

The Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

We often talk about having a backup plan in case of incapacity, which a good idea for everyone.   However, individuals occasionally worry that if they establish a trust, they will lose all control over their life or finances.  This is not at all the case.  Consider how Lowell and Geraldine used a trust to help them stay in charge of their affairs:

Lowell was a “self made man” and an astute investor.  From his perspective, becoming incapacitated was out of the question.  His main concern was that his wife, Geraldine, would not be able to manage their considerable investments if he should predecease her.   To put their minds at ease, Lowell and Geraldine established a Revocable Living Trust naming themselves as co-trustees and Northwest Trustee & Management Services as successor co-trustee after Lowell’s lifetime.

True to his convictions, Lowell did not become incapacitated.  When he passed away in his nineties, he was still managing their extensive investment portfolio and handling their personal finances very capably.  After his death, Northwest Trustee & Management Services seamlessly stepped into his role and assumed management of the investments as planned. 

But we did even more.  We took care of all of the details necessary to make sure Geraldine’s immediate needs were met.  This included contacting government and financial agencies and completing the myriad paperwork required to insure that she received her husband’s life insurance, social security and pensions.  It also meant transferring vehicle titles and bank accounts, and handling the sale of their residence when Geraldine chose to move to a retirement community.  At the most difficult time of her life, Geraldine was freed of all of the perplexing and tiresome details that accompany the death of a spouse.

Though she was not comfortable handling her investments, Geraldine was perfectly capable of handling her personal finances.  She opted to receive a monthly “allowance” from her trust (plus occasional draws for travel or gifts) and continued to manage her personal finances throughout her lifetime.  During her final illness, we assisted with financial and contractual arrangements for her care.  After her lifetime, the trustee handled all of her final affairs, including her funeral arrangements, and ultimately distributed her trust assets according to her wishes.

Lowell wanted to stay in charge and he did.  The value of the trust for him was the peace of mind that the trustee would care for his wife after his lifetime.  Geraldine maintained control of her personal finances, but she was relieved of the burden of managing her sizeable assets.  For Geraldine, the trust also provided the additional benefit of help and support when she most needed it. 

Far from wresting control from them, their trust allowed Lowell and Geraldine to make their own decisions and stay in charge in the ways that mattered most to them.

Print Date:  Spring 2007