FIVE SERVICES THAT ESTATE AND TRUST ADVISORS PROVIDE
Financial planning and management is as important when one dies as it is while they are still alive. This is where estate and financial planning firms come in to provide advisory services, seeing that such matters could easily become confusing for someone without guidance. Estate and trust advisors make financial planning, setting up a trust, and every other process that comes with it easier for you. Here are some things you should know that will help you decide what to do with your finances, trust, and estate in line with the goals you have.
What differentiates an estate from a trust?
An estate refers to all the property that one owns at the time of death. If they created a will before their death, the person identified in the will would inherit the deceased’s estate. However, if one dies without a will, then state law will determine the inheritor of the estate. If the decedent had enough assets, a probate court has to supervise the settling of the estate in both of the cases above.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which a trustor (or grantor) gives a trustee the right to hold assets for a beneficiary until certain conditions are met. The grantor states that one or more people hold the grantor’s property for a beneficiary (or beneficiaries), subject to the fulfilment of certain terms of the agreement and duties.
The most common kind of trust that individuals set up is the revocable living trust which is set up to hold particular assets during their lifetime and those assets are given to others at their death. Most people prefer to set up living trusts because assets do not go through probate (a court supervised process used to authenticate the last will and testament of the deceased).
The grantor still owns other assets in their own name like cars, bank accounts, and other personal property, despite the trust. Those items are part of their estate and not their trust.
Now that you understand the differences between an estate and a trust, it is easy to see how they are related and see that estate and trust advisors typically provide both services.
Estate and Trust Advisory Services
Firms that offer estate and trust advisory services have teams of professionals in the fields of law, finance and taxes that all work together to provide you with the best guidance and advice on financial health, financial planning, and management. This team of professionals usually includes financial advisors, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), investigators, estate attorneys, and trustees that have expert knowledge about living trusts, traditional estates, and specialty trusts like irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable trusts, and grantor retained annuity trusts. Let’s take a look at some of the services that estate and trust advisory firms offer.
i. Estate Tax and Succession Planning
The process of estate planning consists of the following:
- Identification of objectives: The assets, heirs, timing, and form of inheritance
- Determination of the degree to which estate tax exposure should be reduced
- Find the value of the estate
- Estimation of the estate tax liability
- Review life insurance coverage
Considering the size of your estate and the financial objectives you hope to achieve, estate and trust advisors will review possible alternatives with you and make recommendations based on their reviews. These alternatives could include establishing private foundations or charitable trusts, establishing a lifetime gifting program, creating grantor trusts, utilizing irrevocable life insurance trusts, or creating family limited liability corporations.
Estate and trust advisors can work together with your tax advisor and lawyer if you have such. Already existing estate plans can also be reviewed and updated to ensure that it still achieves the aims it was initially set up to and complies with extant laws.
Personalized services to suit your needs can also be offered by estate and trust advisors. An example is the Rehmann Company that provides a personalized service they call the Rehmann Family CFO. The service combines the efforts of your certified public accountant (CPA), chief investment officer (CIO), and lead counsel to ensure that their work is reliably aligned with your financial interests.
ii. Trust Tax Compliance and Administration
- Estate and trust advisors provide trust services that include tax compliance and administration. They evaluate your situation and modify their services to suit your needs. Apart from the required fiduciary income tax returns, they can also make available annual principal and income accountings. These help guide individual trustees when making proper distributions to beneficiaries, in compliance with trust provisions.
- Other areas of trust administration may also be required by clients. Estate and trust advisors are able to help with overseeing multiple investment managers, recordkeeping, calculating charitable distributions, or understanding their roles and responsibilities as a fiduciary.
iii. Asset Management
- Asset management services are available for revocable and irrevocable trusts during the stages of distribution and funding. Estate and trust advisors have independent financial advisors that are not solely committed to a specific investment product. They will make use of the firm’s whole investment platform to work for you and your beneficiaries, deploying strategies that aim to achieve your goals, diversifying your portfolio and striving to reduce risk. Multiple investment options are combined to apply exclusive selection criteria with the aim of helping your trust investment performance meet your needs for the future.
iv. Insurance Advisory
- Insurance advisory services are an important part of the services that clients require. Firms provide insurance oversight and advice for clients, which includes insurance assessments for suitability and performance, receipt and disbursement of premiums, and complete irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT) administration. In order to get a good understanding of immediate and long-term health care needs, life, disability insurance and property coverage, a comprehensive insurance performance review is carried out. The review provides advisors with the information they need to give recommendations in line with your goals and it will help them supply the best insurance instruments for your trust.
v. Investigative Services
- These services are needed to help make timely, informed, and accurate decisions about your estate and trust investments. To carry out investigations, a team of well-trained forensic analysts from reputable agencies are assigned as your strategic intelligence partner for estate and personal asset protection. Firms that provide these investigative services also help to locate beneficiaries or former witnesses to a document. By carrying out background checks, regulatory and compliance assessments, fraud and forensic accounting, and insurance defense, they prove without doubt that the institutions you are vested in are in compliance with best business practices and are of integrity.
Estate and trust advisors are available to help you with all the services listed above. If you have an estate that you require to be passed to specific beneficiaries or a trust you would like to set up, you should consider estate and trust advisors to help you simplify the process.