Much of the work we do in creating and managing trusts involves how assets are passed from one generation to the next. But we have also developed many, many relationships that began with a parent, and in which we are now working directly with the children or even grandchildren.
One simple but gratifying example of this was a client who was an incredible stock market genius. Her children, however, knew nothing about finances. In her estate planning, she established accounts for the children, which they have now inherited. Ever since the original client’s death, I have guided these new clients in managing their investments.
I have another relationship that began with just the husband, who was in his second marriage. This created a complicated situation, with obligations that stemmed from a first marriage. This man was the family’s primary breadwinner. In his estate planning, we helped him provide for his wife, and then to pass family assets on to charity after her death. Both he and I tried to include the wife in the planning process, but she didn’t want to be part of it. (This isn’t uncommon; some folks just don’t like to think about their mortality.) But after the husband’s death, the widow realized that she needed to catch up. I had to educate her on financial matters, including the details of what her late husband had set up for her.
This lady is now financially savvy and was an active participant in her own estate planning. I am now taking care of her – and her children.
Here’s a different scenario. A busy middle-aged man was trustee of a trust that his father had set up. The father was in his 90s and living in a nursing home. The son had been handling everything for his father, but between his own finances, family and career had decided it was too much for him. He came to us for help, turning everything over to us to manage. He continued to act as trustee, but named Old North State Trust as his investment manager. After his father’s death, the trust’s assets were left to him and his sister. They appreciated everything we had done on their behalf, and now both of them have hired us to manage their own assets.
In a similar situation, I am now managing investment accounts for the granddaughters of two former clients, a husband and wife. When I settled their estates, their trusts passed outright to their only daughter, with some smaller portions going to her children, the original clients’ granddaughters. As it turned out, the daughter liquidated most of her inheritance to invest in a farm that she owns, but both granddaughters asked us to manage their funds. So we are now serving this family’s third generation.
The chief takeaway I’d suggest from this is: We are here. Our company doesn’t die, as individuals do, and yet we have a real, personal history with the people we serve. I have worked with several of my clients for many years. We get to know their families, their quirks, the good, the bad and the ugly about them. We don’t judge. We see them at their best and their worst. We help them through everything, life and death, birth, college and retirement.
Though each of us personally has a finite life span, life goes on. And so does a professional asset-management partner like our company.
Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. Old North State Trust, a North Carolina chartered trust company, provides: asset management services; income, estate and trust tax consulting; retirement planning and administration; and trustee and estate services to both individuals and businesses. Old North State Trust professionals have many years of experience and for over a decade have assisted clients in identifying and reaching their financial goals. For more information, visit www.oldnorthstatetrust.com or call 910-399-5470.
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