A question we have to ask ourselves in this ever increasingly crazy and uncertain world is “Who do you trust?”
With the surge lately of violence, cyberattacks and bad (if not downright criminal) behavior amongst celebrities, politicians and institutions, it is hard to know who to have confidence in when dealing with your nest egg.
We don’t know who to trust with our families’ safety, with the safety of our country, the safety of our children or accumulated wealth. So, we try to figure out how to control the things that we can.
One of our mottos at Old North State Trust (ONST) is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. That motto permeates everything we do when advising our clients. In fact, it’s the cornerstone upon which we built our company.
Planning for life with investment management, planning for death with estate planning and settlement, planning for Uncle Sam with tax planning, planning for retirement, planning for all types of issues that life throws at us – some of these things we do as a stand-alone company and some we must collaborate on with other professionals.
That is one of the distinctive qualities that makes us so different from others. We are flexible enough to not only tailor our services to meet our clients’ needs, but we also work with their existing relationships or partners.
Another quality that makes us so unique is that we are an independent wealth management company. This means that we are not beholden to shareholders, and we have no divided interest to pursue loans, mortgages, credit cards or deposits. We can focus solely on our clients.
One very good example of how we do so is the Brown family (not the family’s real name). My team and I have known this family for a very long time, but lost touch with them over the last few years. Recently, they contacted me and told me that they were unhappy with their current provider.
They asked if ONST would consider acting as successor trustee. We reviewed the agreements and asked what the issue was with the current trustee. It seemed that the trustee no longer wished to hold the real estate which was an asset of the trust. Since I was familiar with the account, I asked if anything had changed as the property was simply a piece of residential real estate.
In fact, the way I recalled, it was a very nice home that was well-kept because it had been the home of the primary beneficiary’s deceased parents. They maintained it and wanted to keep it in the family.
The current trustee, which was a large bank, did not want to hold it, as the house represented a large portion of the account. I understood the concern, but we discussed the issue with the clients, developed a plan to address the concern and agreed to take the account. Our ability to be flexible, listen to their concerns and not just issue decisions from afar resonated with them and they were very appreciative.
This is not to say that we don’t have some beneficiaries that are not happy with the way their loved ones designated their funds upon their death. Some beneficiaries would like to have everything given to them at once. They find it hard to appreciate the thought and planning that went into constructing the documents and inheritance given to them. They just don’t understand that one of our most important jobs as a trustee is to save these beneficiaries from themselves.
In fact, one of the closest relationships that I now have is with a client whose husband left everything in trust for her benefit, instead of outright to her. I had the unpleasant task of explaining this to her at our very first meeting. Her husband had just passed away, which is not the best time to have any type of communication with a new client, much less a financial one.
I had to explain that she would not receive funds in the way she thought she would and that she would have to work with us on an ongoing basis. That wasn’t what she expected or wanted to hear. I also had to tell her that she owed the estate some money. That really was not what she wanted to hear.
However, due to our flexibility, we were able to work out an arrangement whereby we exchanged some assets in the estate, made a distribution and she did not have to pay anything back. Over time, we have worked with her to build a relationship in which we help her with all her decision making - estate planning, income taxes, bill pay, Power of Attorney - you name it, we do it.
In fact, we have established such a close bond, she now calls me Momma! That’s what I call a relationship. It’s also what I call the heart of what we do at ONST. It’s establishing relationships and caring for our clients by helping them to plan for the worst that comes their way and being there for them when the best happens.
Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends. The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances. The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely.
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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