What is Your Trust Officer Really Thinking?

101Here are some insights into what your Trust Officer may be thinking. These are real world examples and reflect realistic working pressures today’s trust officers operate under.

“I’ve got more work than I can handle. I used to handle 150 trusts and now I handle 350.”

“When the beneficiary calls or writes me, it takes several days to get the file from storage and review it carefully.”

“I usually write back in 7-10 working days so I guess the beneficiary gets my response in two weeks or so. That’s really the best I can do given my other workload.”

“This is one of my smaller trusts so it has to wait until I get my big trust matters under control. I’m also getting swamped with deadlines on a big estate matter and a foundation matter and I need to deal with those first.”

“I’m reluctant to change the original investments of the trust because that’s what the grantor left me to work with. Besides, all the stocks are very low basis and I don’t want to trigger capital gains tax and anger the beneficiaries.”

“I never met the Grantor and can only interpret his/her wishes within the four corners of the trust instrument.”

“I don’t really know the family that well. I know the primary beneficiary from some recent conversations but I’ve only worked on this trust for a couple of years. I’m doing my best to piece together the file the prior trust officer left me.”

“My job is to carry out the grantor’s wishes, which was to provide income to the beneficiary and preserve the rest for grandchildren and beyond.”

“My job as trustee is to preserve and protect trust assets as much as possible for the longest term.”

“I’m not willing to take any investment risks that would come back to haunt me. If I distribute more than 3-4% income to the beneficiary, the remaindermen could come back and sue us!”

“I’m reminded by my department head and all of our continuing education lectures of the many ways a fiduciary can be sued by remaindermen. There are more and more lawsuits all over the country, especially against banks and trust companies. I’m always very cautious in making distributions to beneficiaries.”

“To protect the trust, I often require beneficiaries to provide a detailed budget documenting why they need a distribution. This protects both the beneficiary who may need that money later in life and the remaindermen who will surely question distributions that are too generous or too vague.”

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