Did you hear the story about the guy who was appointed the trustee of a woman’s trust and he totally took advantage of her and stole all her money? Or the one about the attorney who appointed himself the trustee of a friend’s trust and wrote the trust leaving everything to himself and his sons in violation of Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct? I could go on with horror story after horror story like these, but I’ll stop – you get the idea – you need to be careful when appointing a trustee.
When you name an individual to act as the trustee, whether it is a friend, family member, or a person claiming they specialize in acting as a trustee, you often times are getting one person in charge of everything without much oversight. This person does have a duty to provide accountings and whatnot to the beneficiaries, but if a beneficiary is not keeping a watchful eye, or doesn’t know what to watch for, it is very possible for wrongdoing to occur and all the money to be gone without much warning.
“As a trial attorney that handles estate and trust disputes, I regularly see family member fiduciaries make errors that damage the estate or trust. This can lead to family court disputes as to who should be responsible for the error, which is a legacy no parent wants to leave. From my perspective, professional fiduciaries are a very prudent investment and serve as an insurance policy of sorts against family inheritance disputes,” said Laura Morris, Partner at Warner Norcross & Judd. Laura is a trial attorney and mediator who specializes in probate court disputes involving trusts, estates, wills, powers of attorney, guardianships and conservatorships.
Choosing a professional fiduciary allows for red tape on your trust, meaning that there are many checks and balances and oversight on your trust and your trustee. Being a state-chartered bank, we have to adhere to all of the strict banking guidelines, and we are regulated by the State of Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. Legacy Trust is audited annually for procedures and internal controls by an independent auditing firm, in addition to the frequent examinations conducted by state banking regulators. An outside audit firm conducts annual audits of our Trust Operations, Financial Accounting, and Information Technology. With all of those checks and balances, the likelihood of a story like ones above happening to you goes out the window!
At Legacy Trust, we don’t stop there . . . we go further by getting to know you and your beneficiaries on a personal level. We want your beneficiaries to feel like the person managing the assets that they are inheriting is only a phone call, email, quick drive away, so that if they see anything irregular, if they have a question, or a special circumstance, they know to who call for answers. When you have a relationship like that with the person in charge of your finances, transparency is the norm.
Do not become another horror story – know your trustee. Choosing a corporate trustee like Legacy Trust offers you and your beneficiaries layers of protection to ensure your assets are protected and last for as long as possible