May 2022 Newsletter
May 2022 Issue
The Importance of Choosing the Right Trustee
It is essential to choose the right trustee because this person or institution is responsible for carrying out the terms of the trust and protecting its assets on behalf of the beneficiaries. A trustee can be a person, multiple people, or what is called a “corporate trustee,” such as a bank or trust company staffed by people who manage and grow trust assets. Many grantors name a spouse, an adult child, a relative, or a close personal friend as trustee. The person you choose must have the ability to serve in this capacity and the willingness to devote all of the time and energy necessary to carry out the mandates of the trust. It is important to note that the trustee must administer the trust faithfully and accurately. He or she can be held legally and financially responsible for any mistakes, even those that are unintentional.
The Case For Corporate Trustees
People name corporate trustees for a variety of reasons, including:
If you have no one you can count on to administer your trust, or you don’t want to burden a loved one with the responsibilities of serving as trustee, a corporate trustee may be the way to go.
Avoiding Family Disputes
When one member of the family is named as trustee, other family members might feel slighted. This can lead to arguments and even legal disputes. A corporate trustee is unbiased and can help eliminate infighting between family members. Also, if you are unhappy with how trust assets are being managed, it is much easier to fire a corporate trustee than, say, your eldest son.
In the vast majority of cases, a corporate trustee will have far more experience managing trusts, and helping trust assets grow, than a friend or member of your family.
Many corporate trustees offer investment management, tax planning and other valuable services as part of their fee. If you have a large and complex trust, or a combination of trusts, a corporate trustee might be a good investment. If you are considering a corporate trustee, you’ll want to ask all potential candidates the following questions:
- How much does the service cost and what services are included?
- How long has the trustee been in business?
- How many trusts has the trustee managed?
- What is the average amount of assets held in the trusts managed by the trustee?
We are here to help you decide whether a trust is right for your unique planning needs and goals. We can also help you choose the ideal trustee. Contact us at your earliest convenience for a personal meeting.
What To Do When You Discover Mom or Dad Needs Help?
In this day and age many families are spread across the country, with some people going months—or even years—between seeing their parents and families. What many people don’t anticipate is how much can change between visits, and it is not unusual for adult children to find that their aging parents are not doing as well as they seem over the phone. If a visit to your aging parents brings up worries or concerns for you, or if you aren’t sure what to do or where to start to help, we have a few tips and suggestions that may be useful. Of course every family will be different, and if you have any particular questions or concerns we urge you to call our office, but these suggestions can get you started down the road to ensuring your parents have the help and care they need when you aren’t there.
- First and foremost, talk to your parents—some elderly people may be in denial about how much they need help, but many recognize when they begin losing the ability to care for themselves, and appreciate the opportunity to express their concerns and look for assistance.
- Talk to your siblings—if you’ve noticed mom or dad aren’t doing so well, your siblings have probably noticed something too. Talking about the situation together may help you get a clearer picture of exactly what’s needed, and you may be able to plan the next steps together.
- Contact a geriatric care manager—this is someone who can work with you and your siblings together, someone who can assess the situation, come up with a plan and supervise its execution.
- Keep in mind that snap decisions or sweeping changes can be frightening and disruptive. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to make small, slow changes. Engaging a bill-paying service or a chore service, a transportation program, a few hours a week of a home helper to handle laundry and shopping can often make a huge difference.
- Ask your parents if they have an estate plan, or at the very least encourage them to execute aa Health Care Proxy and an Advance Directive or Living Will. If they do not have any Powers of Attorney, try to help them find an estate planner or elder law attorney they can trust and feel comfortable with, who can ensure they have the legal protections they need.
The transition from being the cared for child to the caregiving adult (or the other way around) can be uncomfortable, and some adult children may go overboard in regard to care and control. Even when their parents still have the ability to care for themselves, concerned children can’t help but worry about what might be coming down the road. This worry can have the effect of putting adult children on edge, and making their parents feel smothered.
There are certainly no easy answers in this situation, and every family will need to search for their own solution, but our firm knows that finding a solution is easier if you don’t have to do it alone. Having a solid estate plan may not solve all the problems between parents and their children, but having a good Health Care Proxy and Advance Directive, and a Financial Power of Attorney can certainly make both parent and child feel a little more secure. Furthermore, opening the lines of discussion for these two documents can clear the way for other important discussions down the road.
A Personal Note From Susana
What to do with your Vacation Home
If you have a second home, summer property, ‘camp,’ or winter ski lodge that is a special gathering place for your family, then this talk is for you. It will include a brief analysis of what happens to a property like this without thoughtful and proper planning before you die. You would be amazed. Your seemingly gentle and cooperative children can turn into squabbling cats, over your second home. Susana will present some pointers on how to avoid these problems and keep the property in the family if that is your wish.
Join us on Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at noon via Zoom for our Beyond The Law Webinar Series- What to do with your Vacation Home?
Quote of the Month:
“Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”
~ Rosa Parks