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How to Choose The Right Trustee

What does the Trustee do?

Take Initial Control of the Assets
The Trustee assures that all the assets have been properly transferred, or re-titled, into the name of the trust. They review the instructions in the trust agreement, and meet with the trust's creator, or the beneficiaries, to discuss their needs.

Assume the Administrative Duties
The Trustee transfers assets to the trust, takes inventory of them, sets up the recordkeeping tools, and obtains adequate insurance on insurable assets.

Supervise Investments
The Trustee will supervise and develop an investment management strategy framed by the needs of both current and future beneficiaries.

Make Payments to the Trust Beneficiaries
As dictated by the trust agreement, the Trustee exercises discretion in making distributions as authorized by the agreement.

File All the Necessary Tax Returns
The Trustee keeps a record of taxable income and the cost basis of all assets. They also furnish data to the CPA for the beneficiaries' annual tax returns as well as the trust tax returns.

Distribute the Trust Assets
The Trustee distributes the assets, calculates the proper share for the beneficiaries and arranges for the transfer of the trust's assets to them when the trust closes.

I want a Trust, but who will be the Trustee?

Once you and your attorney have decided that a trust would be a solution to your estate planning issues, what do you do next? Whatever the reason for establishing your trust, you will need to name a Trustee. As a start, you will want to choose a Trustee who understands your goals, and has the capability to follow your instructions to the letter.

Could I be my own initial Trustee of my Trust, or could my spouse and I both be Co-Trustees of our Trust?

Yes. You may be the initial Trustee or a husband and wife can be the first Co-Trustees. If you do that, however, you must consider who to name in the trust agreement as the Successor Trustee.

What does a Successor Trustee do?

The Successor Trustee takes over the management of the trust after the death, resignation or incapacity of the first Trustee. If a non-professional was the first Trustee, the Successor Trustee will check to make sure all the assets that were supposed to be transferred into the trust, have been properly transferred.

What will the Trustee do with the money?

The Trustee you choose to manage your trust may know a great deal about investing and diversifying the investments to reduce risk, or he may know very little! A trust agreement is merely a contract for the management of assets.

How will your Trustee Invest the Trust Assets?

If you are considering using a Revocable Living Trust for your estate plan, and you are discussing the issue of who should be the Trustee with your attorney and family, then ask the following questions about the person, bank or trust company you are considering.

What can you do to satisfy yourself of the Trustee's management and investment expertise?

Ask these questions:
  • How many other trusts do they manage?
  • How much experience in investing does he (or the trust company) have?
  • How many millions of assets do they already manage in trust accounts?
  • What stock and bond brokers, banks and insurance agents does he employ?
  • Could you work together now on an asset allocation formula for the Trustee to use with advice from your CPA? (What percentage will be in stocks versus bonds or certificates of deposit?)
  • Any asset allocation formula must be flexible and identifiable, yet still allow the Trustee to have discretion to cope with different market contingencies and the tax issues facing the client in the future.
  • How will they keep the fees low? Often, high fee mutual funds are purchased and the client is paying the Trustee's management fee plus the mutual fund fee.
  • What types of investments would you prefer or prohibit? Many people have a risk aversion to certain types of investments.
  • What firm does the auditing or accounting for the Trustee? Remember, individual Trustees are not audited like banks or corporate Trustees.
  • If there are special real estate assets like a farm, a ranch or commercial rental property, special instructions should be included in the trust agreement as to what the Trustee is to do with that property.

Vision Bank's Trust Experience

Vision Bank has been serving as a Trustee for our clients since 1942. We have several trust officers who collectively have 50 years of experience in trust management.

Professional Investment Management
The assets in your trust will be managed by investment specialists who will develop an asset allocation based upon your instructions in the trust agreement and the needs of your beneficiaries. Risk allocation and special assets like family owned businesses are of paramount concern.

Sometimes the family interests conflict. We recognize that in our role as Trustee, it is our responsibility to attempt to resolve conflicts without taking sides.

Delays in the administration of your trust may have detrimental or unexpected consequences. An individual trustee may die, go on extended vacations or become incompetent. Our experienced trust officers and staff are always available.

Free Conference

Contact our Trust Officers and schedule a free one-hour estate planning conference to discuss your estate plans. We do not write legal documents, but our experienced Trust Officers will discuss the options available to you and your family. We will provide you with brochures to read on important planning topics before you see your attorney.


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