The accumulation of wealth is only the beginning. The challenge then becomes the need to preserve, manage and eventually transfer that wealth. First Western Trust looks at the entire financial life of our clients. Through our ConnectView process, we’ll review your retirement planning objectives and give advice regarding how well you’re positioned to support yourself and your family when you’re ready to enjoy your years of hard work. By reviewing your income and financial balance sheet, we can offer advice on income and estate tax strategies, methods to fund the educational needs of children and grandchildren, evaluation of existing life insurance policies, and investment strategies suited to your lifestyle and resources.
For those who are still active in a business in which they started and have nurtured, we can assist with decisions on succession strategies and methods to keep the business in the family. If family ownership is not anticipated, we can offer advice on strategic options for preparing a successful buy-sale contract to take effect during your lifetime or after your passing.
Why engage a corporate fiduciary?
There is a natural inclination to name family members or other individuals to serve as a trustee of a trust or personal representative of an estate. These are normally the people who have a personal relationship with the beneficiaries and understand their needs. A personal fiduciary may have an historical understanding of a business, which will constitute a significant asset of the trust. There is the fear that the family business or other untraditional assets, such as real estate, art, and mineral interests will be immediately liquidated by a corporate trustee — when this event would be inconsistent with the family’s best interests.
Unfortunately, most family trustees do not have the experience, time or investment background to manage the increasingly complicated tax and administrative duties associated with the modern trust. Since the trustee is typically not subject to court supervision, intentional and unintentional abuses often occur. These might include such things as “borrowing” from the trust for personal uses, taking unusually large trustee fees, investing in risky ventures, and favoring certain beneficiaries in making discretionary trust distributions.
A corporate trustee, such as First Western Trust, has checks and balances to avoid the pitfalls often associated with an individual trustee, including internal audits and audits by federal and state authorities. There is more attention to the preservation of the trust assets with an emphasis on preservation of the trust for present and future beneficiaries.
For some families, combining an individual trustee with a corporate trustee may be the best solution. Acting together, the individual trustee can bring the knowledge of the personal relationships while the corporate trustee can provide the safeguards needed for making sound investment and administrative decisions.
In any event, First Western Trust always welcomes and encourages providing authority for the beneficiaries to allow removal of any acting corporate trustee and replacement with a substitute corporate trustee. This gives the beneficiaries or another designated individual the ability to terminate a fiduciary relationship that may have been desirable at one time but which has become unworkable.