Part of any complete estate plan is the naming of a number of important positions. Whether that be a Guardian to raise your minor children, an Agent to act as your Power of Attorney when you cannot act for yourself, an Executor to administer your estate, or a Trustee who is charged with managing any trusts that you create as part of your overall plan; these are important decisions to make.
Some of these roles can be filled by a trusted individual (family member, friend, attorney, etc.), but the role of an Executor and Trustee may be best filled by a professional. Many people are not even aware that there are companies out there that handle the administration of an estate and who manage trusts for beneficiaries. Even those who are aware this service exists are often of the opinion that these professionals take high fees or they don’t pay enough attention to accounts that aren’t high-net worth. While some of this may be true for larger organizations, this is not the case for Univest Bank and Trust Co.
Why name a professional over an individual as Executor and Trustee?
This is one of the most common questions that estate planning attorneys face when drafting documents for clients. There is an important “pros and cons” discussion that needs to happen in order to make this decision.
Pros of naming a professional trust group:
- By naming a professional, community-based trust group, such as Univest, you, as well as your beneficiaries, will receive personalized, client focused service. There will be a dedicated Trust Officer assigned to administering your account who can be contacted directly (not through a call center). Your Trust Officer will be a close member of the team; involved with you, your family, and other trusted members such as attorneys and accountants.
- A professional trust group will work closely with you and your beneficiaries to establish an investment plan for trust funds that meet specific, long term goals.
- A professional trust group is fully aware of the litany of laws and regulations that surround being a true fiduciary.
- A professional trust group will handle all aspects of estate and trust administration including the day-to-day administration, in-house personally managed investments, preparing and filing all necessary tax returns, and establishing a deep, long-term relationship.
Pros of naming an individual person:
- You have the opportunity to name someone who you inherently trust.
- This person is likely already familiar with your family dynamic.
- It is less likely that this person will opt to take a fee for their services.
Cons of naming an individual person:
- This person will likely be put into a position of saying “no” to beneficiaries and thereby putting great strain on an existing family or friend relationship.
- This person may be subject to influence, guilt, or pressure from beneficiaries into making a poor decision.
- This person is not likely versed in their fiduciary responsibilities in accepting appointment of being an Executor or Trustee.
- This person may have an obligation to properly invest trust or estate funds and will likely need to utilize a third-party to invest these funds and pay a fee for their services.
- While you may not think this person will take a fee for their services, many times being an Executor or Trustee feels like a full-time job. This individual is generally allowed to take a reasonable fee for their services and they may end up doing so once they realize the extent of the responsibility.
- This person may pass away, become unavailable, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to serve in whatever role you name them – in which case, you hopefully named a backup or this would need to go to court in some fashion to have a new person appointed.
There is obviously a lot to consider when naming a fiduciary but, in many cases, a professional trust company is the best choice. Once that decision is made, the easier follow-up choice is to name a community-oriented trust company as opposed to a larger, national company. Many times, you and your account can get lost in the shuffle when working with a larger organization. In addition, you often have to deal with call centers and people who aren’t familiar with you and you can end up feeling like you are just an account number. With a community-based trust company like Univest, there is no need for these concerns. We offer a level of service that is not only necessary to properly administer these types of accounts but is what you deserve. If you would like to learn more about our capabilities and services regarding estate and trust administration, please contact us at 215-721-2414.
Trust services are offered through Univest Bank and Trust Co. Products and services offered are not FDIC insured, are not a deposit of or bank guaranteed, and are subject to risks, including possible loss of any principal amount invested.
Girard is a marketing name used by Univest Financial Corporation to provide (1) investment and wealth management, fiduciary services and trust services through its subsidiary Univest Bank and Trust Co., (2) specific fiduciary and investment advisory services through Girard Advisory Services, LLC (3) securities products, insurance products and brokerage services through Girard Investment Services, LLC, a registered broker-dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC, and a licensed insurance agency, and (4) investment management and related products and services to Pennsylvania municipal entities through Girard Pension Services, LLC.