Ask Terry Questions How Do I find a “trust company”

How Do I find a “trust company”

By Terry Savage on May 01, 2013 | Financial Planning / Retirement

I’m thinking of setting up a living trust, but how do I find a bank with a trust department I can trust? About four years ago I found myself unexpectedly with the responsibilities of a co-trustee; the other co-trustee was much better informed, but when the time came he had developed health problems and was unable to perform the task. I had numerous problems with a suburban branch of one of the “big banks” until the lawyer threatened to take them back to court and have them declared in contempt. In my naivete I thought there was an actual trust department in the nearby urban center, so I asked where the trust department was physically located — none of the employees had any idea. From a small-town background, I can remember when you KNEW who the bank officers were, could walk into the bank and sit down across the desk with them. Setting up a trust with incompetent branch employees is not going to work for me.

SAVAGE SAYS: Wait a minute. You’re getting two very different things confused. When you set up a Revocable Living Trust as part of an estate plan, you don’t need a bank trust department. You are the trustee, and when you die (or are incapacitated) the successor trustee you have named in your trust can take over and act per your instructions in the document. That’s a Revocable Living Trust.

Now, if you simply want to irrevocably give away assets, you do need an attorney to draw up the documents. And once given, you cannot change your mind. Typically, you would chose a person to act as trustee of this trust, but you could choose a bank trust department, or a trust company. If you are not giving away a substantial amount of assets, the costs of having a bank administer the trust would be prohibitive. Sometimes, people create irrevocable trusts to own life insurance policies, and gift money to the trust with advice to the trustee to use the cash to pay premiums!? That keeps the face value of the life insurance out of your estate for estate tax purposes.

So please write back and let me know what? you REALLY want to create — a revocable living trust (which lets you change your mind about everything in it, including the trustee) or an irrevocable trust to give away assets!



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