Lee Bank established a trust department to service an underserved market. Few banks with trust powers remain in the western Massachusetts region, and those that do are predominantly large, publically-traded companies. Some of which might have their trust personnel located out of the area. Lee Bank is an independent bank in Berkshire County with a commitment to stay local.
Trusts offer a variety of advantages with estate planning and wealth management that are not available with individual or jointly owned accounts. There are many different reasons to create a trust, some are:
- Provide income for a surviving spouse;
- Protect assets from creditors;
- Ensure who gets what and when;
- Reduce or possibly eliminate death taxes;
- Protect the inheritance for a minor or a disabled family member;
- Provide privacy of your wealth and distributions from the public eye.
When creating a trust and choosing a trustee, the trustee can serve with you during your lifetime or after you have passed. When choosing a trustee, some things to consider are:
- Reliability & Responsibility: Can the fiduciary you have in mind carry out the responsibilities? Can they be relied upon to act in a timely manner?
- Trustworthiness: Each year beneficiaries lose millions through dishonesty or ignorance of personal trustees.
- Impartiality: Can the fiduciary you have in mind remove their own beliefs and feelings out of the decision making process? If you are naming multiple beneficiaries, can the trustee not let their own personal feelings for the beneficiaries get in the way of treating them equally?
- Experience and Expertise: How experienced is the fiduciary you are considering? By naming an inexperienced fiduciary, it could result in delays, or worse, added expenses of the trust that could be a detriment to your savings.
- Availability and Communication: How likely is it that the fiduciary will be available for your beneficiaries? Will they have open lines of communication? Is geographic proximity important?
- Fees: Generally, a corporate fiduciary will charge a fee based on several factors such as market value, risk and duties outlined within the trust or Will. When interviewing trustees, be sure to ask what is their published fee schedule.
It is advisable when considering a trustee, to consider a succession plan and talk with a chosen personal or corporate fiduciary before finalizing the document. Trusts evolve over the years, the assets within the trust or needs of the beneficiary may change over time. This should also be considered when choosing a succession plan.