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Don’t Drive A Special Needs Trust on a Flat Tire

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The proposed Illinois Trust Act poses a real danger to Special Needs Beneficiaries.

 

Part 3: The disastrous impact of the proposed law on special needs beneficiaries.

 

Executive Summary: The proposed law punctures healthy trust administration and so eviscerates protections for beneficiaries of special needs trusts.

There are three defects in the proposed law which combine as a powerful force against special needs trust beneficiaries. Under the proposed law:

  1. Trusts don’t have to benefit their beneficiaries!
  2. Trustees owe no loyalty to their beneficiaries!
  3. Trustees have no duty to administer trusts aligned with the interests of their beneficiaries!

 

The proposed law comes in the guise of bringing the Uniform Trust Code to Illinois. That model Code is arguably beneficiary-centric. However, in their proposed revision, the Illinois drafters have swung the pendulum much too far against beneficiaries.

In my first article, I discussed the details of the relevant parts of the proposed law, and why they don’t work.

In my second article, I discussed the disastrous impact of the proposed statute on trusts meant to benefit aging seniors.

In other words, under this new statute, trusts are likely to injure the beneficiaries.

 

OVERVIEW: This series of articles addresses one aspect of the proposed changes out of the currently pending legislation for Illinois to adopt the model Uniform Trust Code (“UTC”).

 

Specifically, these articles focus on the proposed law’s deletion from the UTC of the idea that a beneficiary  must benefit the trust. It is fundamental to trusts that a beneficiary is to benefit from the trust. And so, this proposed deletion is a radical departure from basic trust law.

 

My opinion is shaped by my 30 plus years of service as an independent individual professional trustee. During that time, I’ve advised and also served as trustee on many Special Needs Trusts.

 

Trained as and having practiced extensively as an attorney, I now help families in a wide variety of circumstances around their trusts, including helping them to fix broken trusts. Most of the Special Needs Trusts I’ve serviced came to me broken in one way or the other.

 

Trusts stop working for many reasons. Oftentimes they fall apart because their trustees are indifferent, and sometimes even hostile, to the beneficiaries.

 

Like other professional trustees, I actually stand to gain from this change in the law. That’s because the law makes it harder for beneficiaries to challenge their trustees, even when the trustees have done something harmful to the beneficiaries. Contrary to that financial incentive, I find the proposed change abhorrent because it works against the basic premise that trustees should work for the good of the family, not the good of the trustee.

 

In my first article, I detailed the relevant parts of the proposed law, and how it deviates from both the model law and, more importantly, from impartial and fair trust administration.

 

Key points from that first article include:

  • The proposed law erases the rule that beneficiaries must benefit from their trusts, despite the fact that providing a benefit to the beneficiary is a basic premise of trusts.  That’s why they call them “beneficiaries” – they’re supposed to benefit from the trust!
  • The proposed law allows trustees to ignore beneficiaries with impunity. If beneficiaries don’t matter, they will be abused.

 

Click HERE to review that first article.

 

In my second article, I exposed the devastating impact of the proposed statute on aging seniors. Under the proposed law, surviving spouses are particularly vulnerable when they are the beneficiaries of their deceased spouse’s’ trusts.

 

Specifically, applying the new law that the beneficiary does not have to benefit from the trust, the trustee can deny, without consequence, the surviving spouse of:

  • Care managers or caregivers of their own choice – and can even refuse to pay for any supplemental home health care altogether!
  • Their preference to age in place, and not be transferred to a facility. Instead, the trustee can force these seniors to move out of their home.
  • Copies of their own personal bills and payments. Under the new law, the trustee is under no obligation to supply any financial information to the surviving spouse, other than a once a year accounting.

 

And the list of outrages is longer! Click HERE to review that article.

 

In this article, I look at how the proposed deletions impact another class of family trust beneficiaries, namely special needs beneficiaries. In looking more closely at this groups of beneficiaries, the reader will hopefully also understand the potentially devastating impact of the proposed legislation generally.

 

The Proposed Law Allows Trustees to Lock Away Special Needs Beneficiaries.

 

High among the more vulnerable beneficiaries, special needs beneficiaries are particularly dependent upon the attention of their trustees.

 

Where the special needs beneficiaries enjoy government benefits, their trusts can be useful in filling in the gaps for a higher quality of life, including, paying for such items as:

  • computer tablets, wireless access and cell phones,
  • supplemental clothing and grooming,
  • supplemental care managers, coaches and companionship, and
  • financing outside activities and events.

 

Under the proposed law, the trustees have no obligation to attend to the individual needs, wants and concerns of their special needs beneficiaries. The trustees could decide to not provide any of the items on the above list, and there would be no mechanism to compel them to provide these important benefits to the special needs beneficiaries.

 

Instructive is the well-publicized case of Mark Holman. At a young age Mark lost his sole remaining relative, his mother, and inherited millions of dollars. Shut away in an institution, Mark didn’t talk or participate at any meaningful level with the world, and had no way to access his funds except through his trustee, who had served as the family’s lawyer.

 

Fortunately for Mark, a judge was supervising his trust and paying attention to his interests and what would benefit him.

 

At a court hearing, the trustee bragged to the judge that Mark’s financial assets were growing well. Then the judge changed the subject and asked the trustee whether he had visited Mark. Pressed on this line of questioning, the trustee eventually admitted that he had never met Mark, and so had no idea of how the trust’s growing millions could be used for Mark’s benefit.

 

In response, the judge ordered the trustee to visit Mark. As could be predicted, Mark benefited. The purchase of additional therapy for Mark followed. This therapy eventually resulted in Mark’s learning how to talk and a new level of quality of life!

 

In other words, when the trustee finally paid attention to his special needs beneficiary, the beneficiary’s life changed dramatically for the better.  And paying attention starting with a simple visit.

 

Common sense confirms that heeding the interests of special needs beneficiaries typically starts with visits, ideally personal ones. In marked contrast, under the proposed law trustees are not obligated to visit, to communicate or to pay any attention at all to their special needs beneficiaries whatsoever!

 

Specifically, in not visiting with Mark and having no concept of what might benefit him, Mark’s trustee was complying with the minimum requirements set by the proposed law. It’s horrifying to think what Mark’s life would have been like if that’s where the law left him.

 

The minimum activity for special needs trustees should not be set so low. Instead, special needs trustees should be required to heed the interests of their beneficiaries.

 

For me, it’s not unreasonable to require the trustee to make personal visits to the beneficiaries — just as the judge ordered for Mark Holman. And, of course, to have the trustee give the highest consideration to the needs of their vulnerable beneficiaries. Illinois law should demand that minimum.

 

Wouldn’t you want the same for your beloved special needs family member?

 

This proposed law treats special needs trust beneficiaries worse than accused murderers. Even those criminals get their day in court. Leaving special needs beneficiaries without legal standing is something society doesn’t even impose on the worst criminal defendants.

 

Please join me in stopping this misguided proposal from becoming law in the state of Illinois. Contact your representative in Springfield and demand that this heinous provision be deleted from the law!

10 Tips for Serving as Financial Power of Attorney Through Disability

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Decreased Capacity of the Principal means Increased Complexity and Responsibility for the Property Power Holder

The financial power of attorney — typically called the “power of attorney for property” — is often considered of lesser importance in estate transitions. Assuming there is a trust, the thought is that the necessary tasks are completed by the trustee, especially where all the assets are scheduled to be put into the trust. And anything that didn’t get transferred into the trust before death is supposed to get deposited there after death through the will’s so-called “pour over” provision.

In contrast, in my experience there is almost always some asset outside of the trust. That often includes the bank account that is receiving automatic pension or benefit payments, which can’t be simply re-titled as a trust account without the onerous task of retitling the benefits.

Along with those outside assets there are also various tasks, especially some critical decision-making, that often falls to the individual holding the financial power of attorney. To name a few of the technical ones:

• Managing current and anticipating future government benefits.
• Coordinating insurance benefits.
• Marshalling pension benefits.
• Managing the bank accounts, especially where the account is connected to ongoing automatic deposits and debits.
• Collaborating with the health care power holder as well as the team of healthcare advocates, managers and givers.
• Stewarding other assets that are not in the trust.

The execution of these tasks is significantly complicated by the mental disability of the “principal” – who technically speaking is the one who hires the power holder. The complications mount when the principal is suffering under those too common forms of dementia which cloud executive function.

The power holders are supposed to follow the instructions of their principal – but how can that be done well where the principals are unable and perhaps even unaware that their requests are often inconsistent and sometimes even destructive to prudent management?

While it’s their money and life – and we defer to a person’s choices on how to invest and spend both – the tension of their independence and expressed choices often conflicts with safety and prudent financial practices.

Serving as a professional financial power is one of my core professional offerings. I serve as an independent financial fiduciary, which includes acting as power of attorney for property. Sometimes I serve that role while also serving as trustee and executor.

In the last year I have been in active service to two separate individuals, both of whom suffer from dementia. While neither of them started with observable mental deficits, their dementia increased to the point of their respective doctors finding them “non-decisional.”

Yet, despite their doctors’ findings and the obvious gaps in their mental functionality, they both insist they are decisional and that their wishes should be respected.

Ultimately, court-imposed guardianships may be necessary. However, guardianship starts with a costly and adversarial proceeding where the issue is proving the inability of the individuals to take care of their own person and finances. Too often the court places a guardianship over the individual’s understandably strenuous and emotional objections.
This article will use the case studies of these two separate engagements – as well as other insights from the front lines by me and other colleagues – to provide some insights as to how to better engage as power of attorney for property with a principal whose capacity is diminishing.

Further, some of the ideas may also be of help where the principal is not yet suffering from diminished capacity.

1. As to preparedness: confirm the principal’s capacity at the time of document execution.

For example, I was to be the financial power holder for a lovely older woman on a special asset; however, I never got to act. A few weeks after she extended the power to me and signed her other estate documents, a family member sued to void them all, alleging her mental incompetency.

A brilliant tactic by another estate planning attorney is to have a doctor confirm capacity. He obtained a doctor’s note attesting to the grantor’s capacity which was dated the same day as the estate documents. The doctor’s letter has helped cut through red-tape when I had to contact her financial institutions and advisors without her personal introduction.

2. Another best practice is derived from the American Bar Association’s model rules of professional conduct for the similar situation of attorneys working with clients suffering from diminished capacity.

Specifically, those rules instruct an attorney to maintain as normal a relationship with the client as reasonably possible. Perhaps containing equal parts of common sense and simple respect, the point is to prevent the principal from becoming less than a full person or worse, an object or non-person because of cognitive limitations. Both of my diminished capacity principals call me with questions – and expect and deserve answers, even when they’re seemingly unaware that this is one that I’ve answered several times already, or worse, is one which simply doesn’t make sense.

3. Speak what your principal can hear.

My answers to these people have to be at an appropriate technical and emotional level. I continue to provide them with monthly accounting summaries of income and disbursements as well as the status of their investments. But these are one-page documents in large type, removing a lot of detail. When I mail it to them, I include simple and short bullet points. I also find that an encouraging emotional affect is critical, whether there is good news or not.

4. Redirect the principal to the essential points and away from emotional and other distractions.

This strategy is occasionally necessary for both my principals. They can get tangled in uncertainties or perceived wrongs of the past – or simply in falsehoods. My current best example was provided by a staffer at one of the top facilities in Chicago, where one of my principal’s resides. This was in response to the principal’s complaint that she hadn’t been fed or received her medications in several days! These complaints were simply untrue – but were asserted vigorously by the principal. Instead of arguing or feeding into the negativity, the staffer exclaimed that she was going to make sure that the principal would get her food and meds asap! The principal beamed happily in response.

5. Know what’s going on medically with your principal and how that manifests.

Understanding their medical condition is important not only to understand their medical needs and expenses, but also to be able to relate to and support them! The care managers for both of my principals have warned me about their clients being critical of advisors who are not present, or simply mischaracterizing their advice. Whether that was caused by the dementia or a function of their feisty personalities, I observed the same phenomena. So, along with other members of their professional team, I independently investigate their criticisms. While I take everything they say seriously, I also continue to do some careful investigation before acting. Knowing this allows me to act both more professionally and compassionately.

6. Get in advance a HIPAA-compliant authorization so as to be kept current on medical issues.

Some health care professionals may exclude the financial power holder from key medical information by applying HIPAA rigorously. The cost of this information gap can be significant given that so much of the principal’s day-to-day revolves around their medical condition – especially including their capacity to communicate. To make sure they have complete information to execute their tasks well, financial fiduciaries should consider requesting authorization to be provided with the medical information.

7. Keep others prudently advised with as proactive and open communication lines as is reasonably prudent.

It’s often a surprise to those less familiar with such fiduciary work how important communication is — and also how much time it takes to keep appropriate people advised. The appropriate people are not only colleagues but also key family members and stakeholder friends. This can be especially important when the principal is spreading misinformation. Imagine for one, the understandable distress that could be caused by one of her friends hearing the principal’s claim that she hadn’t been fed or given her medications in two days without also hearing from the advisors who know differently.

8. And so the corollary lesson here is to get advance authorization from the principals to talk to their key family and friends, and have the principals consider extending HIPAA authorization to them as well.

Some communication with other members of the professional team as well as the family can occur without getting too deep into financial or medical specifics. However, it can be unsatisfying to have to end the flow of information before sharing the key facts, particularly those that relate to explain why the principal may at times be an unreliable witness.

9. The other tip derived from the rules of lawyers’ professional conduct: the attorney may take reasonably necessary protective action where there’s a risk of substantial physical, financial or other harm.

Power holders do not have to invoke a guardianship in order to act robustly on behalf of their principals. Arguably they can substitute their judgment where the principal either (1) is clear on their goals but unclear on the necessary steps to achieve them or (2) offers conflicting goals or directions. Given that the consequences of their diminished capacity can undermine their ultimate financial security, the power of attorney for property should take prudent steps as reasonably necessary to avoid (or at least minimize) the harm that the principal can cause themselves.

10. Investigate and prepare for possible transition into Medicaid.

There is a high financial cost necessary to maintain a reasonable level of care during advancing incapacity, especially where the individual’s actions are less than ideally aligned with efficiency. As a result, many of these individuals can find themselves eventually requiring needs-based benefits, such as Medicaid. Simply, many older Americans run out of money.

Some can see this need because of their relatively small savings at the outset; however, others face this need further down the road because of unexpected depletion of their financial resources. Sometimes that’s a deliberate life-style choice. Either way, investigation and preparation for Medicaid can reveal time-sensitive options.

One of my principals is using Medicaid planning to determine the most efficient spend down.

There’s a variation with another of my principals who wants to let her husband die at home instead of in an institution. That was his express request as well. A contrasting Medicaid-planning strategy might be for the couple to buy and secure their places at a facility now in light of the cold financial facts. The sharp consequences of that strategy include their likely separation into different wings of the facility besides the violation of his wish to die at home. And so, with the approval of the planner and the rest of their professional team, the principals remain in their home. Their entire team is keeping an educated eye on the situation to make sure sufficient assets will remain to make the move later, allowing them to better honor their important wishes.

These tips – and the true incidents which support them – show the need for some heavy-lifting on the part of the financial power of attorney: technical as well as communication savvy to help their principals enjoy the last chapters of their life. That’s important work! Hopefully, these 10 tips will help holders of the power of attorney for property to better serve their principals.

© Daniel P. Felix, Felix Group, P.C. 2018 all rights reserved

Why smart trust planning will save you money and pain

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What some savvy folk are doing to better face the inevitable

Many families are investing in preparation before their trusts become effective to minimize and avoid anticipated problems – problems which, if allowed to fester, can be costly in both dollars and family harmony.

This Article uses real-life examples to illustrate how professionals such as myself — known as Independent Trustees — work with families and their advisors to increase the likelihood of a smooth trust administration.

Specifically, here are four practices which are proven to not only save money and pain but are also reasonably calculated to bring a smoother transition and enhanced family harmony.

These four practices are:

  1. Preparing the Family for Administration.
  2. Advance Coordination between Trustee and the Trust and Estate Attorney.
  3. Enabling Professional Guidance in the Decision-Making Process.  
  4. Conducting Regularly Scheduled Advance meetings with the Successor Trustee.

These four practices are proven: some of my client families are deploying them with success.

Let me tell you some of the advance work that they’re doing:

1. Training Family to Serve

One couple is bringing in extended family to serve as overseers of the professionals, including the ability to replace those professionals. With my help, the couple has started preparing those extended family members in a process that includes:

  • Sharing their goals and values.
  • Confirming family members’ understanding of what the trust document says.
  • Engaging in ongoing dialogue, because just talking about it can be helpful.
  • Meetings with the professionals. And
  • Addressing the logistics as well as the concerns of those family members to ensure their involvement goes as smoothly and successfully as possible.

2. Advance Coordination between Trustee and the Trust and Estate Attorney

That couple is also savvy enough to have invested in my working with their estate planning attorney before the documents were finalized. Among other things, I’ve helped expedite the finalization of the trust documents by suggesting some temporary solutions to a few of their thornier issues – problems that had stopped the preparation of the documents. As another success, in preparing my plain English summary of the trust, I also earned the attorney’s thanks by tactfully identifying a problem phrase in the trust document.

3. Enabling Professional Guidance in the Decision-Making Process

Then there’s the business owner who had a deep love for his second wife, wanting to make sure she was taken care of before gifting to his beloved children, who are living independently. Once he got going in the preparedness process, he

  • Structured governance to have both his widow and one of his children co-manage the trust. On my suggestion, he set them up for success by having us talking about their duties and responsibilities with them.
  • Embedded me in the process as a mediator and, if necessary, a tie-breaker. That role gave me the platform to consult with his trustees in advance of the deadlock to make sure that these co-trustees started on the right foot — and stayed there!

4. Conducting Regularly Scheduled Advance meetings with the Successor Trustee

There’s another couple who have put me in position to step in when the time comes as successor trustee of their lifetime revocable trust. They have taken up my recommendation to invest now in quarterly meetings with me. Among other agenda items, we review tasks that they should take care of in advance, saving the expense and pain of the successor trustee starting on those tasks at a time when the grantors are unable to take care of their health and/or financial needs. When one item – interviewing health care managers/advocates – remained on their list for several meetings, they were open to calling a couple of those essential health professionals right in the middle of one of our meetings.  As a result, the couple has created a network of approved health care professionals.

 

Understand that I’m often brought in at time of need – sometimes extreme need – by families facing expensive and emotionally costly breakdowns in how their trusts are being administered. See, for one example, my recent article, Tips on Avoiding Trust and Family Breakdowns.

Especially so, I’m deeply encouraged by individuals and couples who engage in advance work to avoid such crises. They know that things will go smoother for their survivors and will be less costly through this “pre-needs” work.

And it is work.  Some of the work is clerical: gathering details from files and from various third parties.

Some of the work is making executive decisions such as, selecting key professionals for taking care of health, assets, and other family members as well as deciding on what supervision is appropriate and how succession will flow.

And perhaps the most difficult work: coming to grips with their mortality and legacy, and with their family, with who should get what and why – and whether and how their bequests will enhance the lives of those others. These are core issues for us as humans.

Our culture does not yet adequately support this work. Most of us are not trained in it. Worse, too many professionals in the field have a limited understanding of preparedness.

Perhaps these real-life examples will be an inspiration. In the meantime, these families are enjoying the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’ve done all they can to prepare for the inevitable. Can you say the same for your families?

Tips on Avoiding Trust & Family Breakdowns

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Case Study Lessons for Making the Trust Work

 

**EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was published in the Illinois State Bar Association‘s July 2018 newsletter. Read it HERE.

 

Too many families feel the pain and expense of problems with their trusts. Mis-steps in administration, often well-intentioned, derail trusts into legal, financial and family breakdowns.

This Article uses real life examples to illustrate how professionals such as myself — known as Independent Trustees — work with families and their advisors to put the families and their trusts back on track for success.

Specifically, what follows is a case study of a family that did not adequately prepare for trust administration. You can see several truths for successful trust administration by studying what went wrong with this family and their trust. Given the immense financial and emotional cost that this particular family continues to pay, the learning is invaluable. Don’t let this happen to you – or to your clients.

Of course, I’ve modified various key facts to further help preserve this family’s anonymity. In my next article, I’ll consider some successful examples for preparation.

For this family, I was brought in as a replacement trustee in the hopes of not just avoiding litigation, but more proactively to try to help them and their trust get back on track. It’s sobering that the critical importance of the financial fiduciary to the success of the trust continues to be under appreciated. Some understand it directly and painfully only when things start going wrong.

So here are a few proof points of the difference the trustee can make in the context of cleaning up the mis-steps of both the prior trustee and even the settlor — that’s the person who envisioned this enterprise and funded it with her money.

These issues came to a head for me while knee deep in trying to clean up the crises of this family’s trust. Doing my due diligence in discussing the situation and the solutions with the various family members, one of the settlor’s descendants asked me if his ancestor set the family up for failure by the type of trust she prepared.  In other words, she was asking if grandma made a mistake in writing the trust the way she did!

That’s a charged question and has implications for resolution of the open administration issues, as well as for the foundation of this family’s legacy!

And yet, there was evidence that both the trust and the family were, indeed, failing.

Consider that though the settlor envisioned the trust to be an ongoing enhancement to the lives of all her descendants, various problems appeared during the administration of her successor.

Though as the successor’s replacement, I have since been able to take steps to address the problems individually and globally, it still remains to be seen how successful our clean up will be. Among other things:

  • One side of the family had stopped receiving information – and benefits! I gained access to the accounts, resumed information flow and got agreement to make interim distributions to all the branches of the family. Transparency builds trust and cooperation!
  • The family was lawyering up. One of the members from that deprived side of the family hired an attorney claiming foul. The successor already had his attorney. I engaged both the attorneys in ongoing conversations to address the issues of their clients and also to move the trust administration toward healing and success. Fostering collaboration builds consensus!
  • The two sides couldn’t agree on any other family member to step in as trustee. Their confidence and trust with each other was low. Fortunately, one of the few things they agreed on was hiring me, an independent professional trustee to put out the fires and work to avoid future ones. Investing in the necessary support can yield dividends!
  • No one was quite sure of the exact amount of assets available. There wasn’t even an unofficial accounting. I directed the creation of the accounting that will be updated monthly and remain available 24/7 to the family through secured internet access. Technical compliance is foundational!
  • The corporate co-trustee had long ago resigned, and no corporate trustee would serve given the wide discretion that the grantor wanted the trustees to exercise to make sure her hard earned funds got to the right descendants. I obtained agreement to forgo a corporate trustee, at least for the interim. Taking prudent risks may be necessary!

Against this stack of evidence, I took a breath before responding as to whether grandma had burdened her family with an ill-fitting trust. I responded, investing a part of my professional leverage to explain that it may not be exactly as it appeared.

Trust Foundation: The settlor’s vision.

I started with the big picture: “Your ancestor’s vision was magnanimous”, I said. That vision was to pay for the education of all of her descendants! That’s an unrealized dream for many parents, let alone for extended families.

And, I appreciate what she did in her trust document. Her trust document creates a thoughtful structure to accomplish her vision. She – and her drafting trust & estate attorney no doubt – resolved many of the details in the trust document. To give one example: she established a set asset investment mix to remove the conflict between present beneficiaries wanting to maximize present funds, on the one hand, and on the other, future beneficiaries wanting to grow the pie.

And then I shared with her what I am convinced are four of the true causes of the breakdowns that she and her family had hired me to help them with.

#1 – To be successful, the family needs to know what the trust says.

Contrary to this fundamental concept, these trust documents were not provided to or accessible by the family. To start, the documents were not distributed to all the appropriate family members.

But, even if they had been, the family couldn’t fully understand them. That’s because these trust documents, like most trust documents, were written in a special language that is decipherable only by lawyers.

Now trusts need to contain legalese, just like the designs for airplanes need to contain their engineering technicalities. Without those technicalities, the plane can’t fly and the trust doesn’t work.

And also like airplanes, we need to get the information in another form to master how to fly them, and to set the expectations for those who are being flown.

So, the memos that I prepared to explain the trust in simple, plain English which the family appreciates now, would have also been helpful many years before. These memos highlight the provisions which required that all the descendants were eligible to receive scholarships, not just on one side of the family.

#2 – The family needs to develop skills.

Telling was the failure to coach the family member trustee in how to do her job. Though she received some piecemeal and mostly technical instruction from the professional advisors, there was a total absence of any support for the family. So breakdowns are not surprising given that the family wasn’t informed about the provisions of the trust document or their ancestor’s vision.

So, this family was feeling the painful impact of the insufficient investment in having the family understand how the trust works, and to let them practice. That includes, but is far from limited to the successor trustee. After all, the entire family needs to know how the trust works. It’s like expecting someone to be a good citizen without giving them any knowledge of how democracy works – or seeing it in action in their precinct. There is an art and science in being an excellent beneficiary as well as for being an outstanding trustee. Neither good intentions or solid character makes up for lack of knowledge and experience.

The core structure for developing a shared understanding is through family meetings. Given the geographic dispersion of the family, I couldn’t bring everyone into the same room, but have used emails and other communications to enhance common understanding. They’ve also permitted me to enhance their skills by bringing them into some of the administration’s decision-making as well as delegating select tasks to them.

#3 – Integrating Trust and Family Cultures.

It’s said with good reason that culture eats structure for lunch. Role-play and field-testing are simple tools to not only practice the technical structure, but to try it on and make sure it fits. Forced-fitting at the time of crisis is difficult – and all the more so, because the settlor, who could have made tweaks as well as bigger changes while alive, is no longer available.

In this family’s situation, because of the breakdowns on the above two items, there was not an opportunity to sync the trust with the culture of the family. This is not easy or even always possible in advance of need. And it can be all the more difficult while engaging in crisis management.

The blessing in this family is that there is a general spirit and sensitivity to making things right and for a non-punitive healing. I’ve offered options for a reimagined trust, consistent with their ancestor’s vision. Reimagining the trust has allowed the family to explore the repair of the prior mis-steps in excluding parts of the family.

#4 – Pay for adequate preparedness.

There appears to have been inadequate professional counseling and coaching to successfully launch and manage administration. Any number of advisors could have helped deal with the lack of accountings and the corporate trustee resignation as well as family governance and preparedness. That starts with being retained and then heeded.

And, of course, the necessary advice extends far beyond the technical. Though a trust will fail around breakdowns of the many technical requirements of administration, a trust will not succeed merely from meeting all of those technical niceties. Trust administration is bigger than the technical – it is the vehicle families ride for intergenerational transition. Families deserve a smoother ride than they often end up with.

The advantage of investing upfront in this work is contained in the old truism that the ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. For one, I guarantee my client families that they will save both money and pain by engaging in advance preparedness. And this family is now well aware that they are paying for a full load of pound-of-cure advisors!

Conclusion

It’s easy to point fingers at the successor, or even at the settlor, or her attorney. The truth is that this type of advance work, so obvious in hindsight, is still too infrequently compelling in advance as an invaluable investment in the ounce-of-prevention.

So, instead of engaging in the fundamentals, breakdowns happen, causing considerable pain and expense.

And then the family wonders why grandma wrote such a lousy trust.

Are you going to let this happen to your families?

Seniors Can’t Drive with a Flat Tire

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The proposed Illinois Trust Act punctures healthy trust administration and so poses a real danger to Seniors.

 

PART 2: The disastrous impact of the proposed law on aging senior beneficiaries.

 

Executive Summary: The proposed law eviscerates protections for trust beneficiaries who are aging seniors.

There are three defects in the proposed law which combine as a powerful force against these beneficiaries. Under the proposed law:

  1. Trusts don’t have to benefit their beneficiaries.
  2. Trustees owe no loyalty to their beneficiaries.
  3. Trustees have no duty to administer trusts aligned with, or even conscious of, the interests of their beneficiaries.

The proposed law comes in the guise of bringing the Uniform Trust Code to Illinois. That model Code is arguably beneficiary-centric. However, in their proposed revision, the Illinois drafters have swung the pendulum much too far against beneficiaries.

In my first article, I discussed the details of the relevant parts of the proposed law, and why they don’t work. Key points include:

  • The proposed law erases the rule that beneficiaries must benefit from their trusts, despite the fact that providing a benefit to the beneficiary is a basic premise of trusts. That’s why they call the person a “beneficiary”!
  • The proposed law strengthens the ability of trustees to ignore beneficiaries with impunity. If beneficiaries don’t matter, they will be abused.

 

In other words, when driving this new statute, trusts are likely to injure the beneficiaries.

 

OVERVIEW: This series of articles addresses one set of the proposed changes out of the pending legislation for Illinois to adopt the model Uniform Trust Code (“UTC”). While this author might suggest other changes to the UTC, the focus in these articles is on the revision that is pending in Springfield.

Specifically, these articles focus on the proposed law’s deletion from the UTC of the idea that a beneficiary must benefit the trust. This idea is fundamental to trusts. And so, its deletion is a radical departure.

In my first article, I detailed the relevant parts of the proposed law, and how it deviates from the model law and, more importantly, from basic trust administration. Click HERE to review that article.

In this article, I look at how the proposed deletions impact one class of family trust beneficiaries, namely aging seniors. In looking more closely at this groups of beneficiaries, the reader will hopefully also understand the potentially devastating impact of the proposed legislation generally.

My opinion is shaped by my 30 plus years of service as an independent individual professional trustee, including considerable time helping families over trust’s that are broken. Trusts stop working for many reasons. Oftentimes they fall apart because of trustee’s who are indifferent or worse to the beneficiaries.

Like other professional trustees, I stand to gain considerably from this change in the law because the law makes it harder for beneficiaries to challenge their trustees. Contrary to that financial incentive, I find the proposed change abhorrent because it works against the basic premise that a trust should be administered for the good of the family, not the good of the trustee.

 

The Proposed Law Allows Trustees to Ignore the Needs and Wants of Aging Beneficiaries.

 

Trusts are often active during a period of disability of the grantor, and also after the death of the aging grantor to attend to a similarly senior spouse. Too often, the surviving spouse is often all the more spent — and vulnerable — for having tended to the deceased.

Sometimes these individuals are aging alone — what the Chicago Tribune and others calls “elder orphans.” These beneficiaries have no one other than their fiduciaries to make sure they are taken care of, and they are vulnerable to caring trust administration.

Despite their vulnerable condition and increased need of these trust beneficiaries, the proposed law imposes no duty for the trustee to attend to their wants and needs!

A few examples of problems under the proposed law,

  • If these seniors want a particular care manager or care giver, the trustee can deny them and choose another provider of their own choice, or no provider at all!
  • If these seniors prefer to age in place, and not be transferred to a facility, the trustee can refuse to pay for home care or assistance without fear of being second-guessed, and so cause the seniors to have to move out of their home and into facilities.
  • If these seniors want to stay involved and review their personal bills and payments weekly or monthly, the trustee is under no obligation to supply that information on the beneficiary’s proposed frequency, other than a once a year accounting.
  • If these seniors would benefit from certain remodeling of their home to make it more accessible, the trustee can refuse to pay for that remodeling.

In fact, under the proposed law, the trustee is not obligated to talk with the aging beneficiaries or give any consideration whatsoever to what these seniors need or want.

 

Is this what you want for your beloved aging family member?

 

Curiously, the proposed law arguably requires the trustee to pay attention to aging beneficiaries ONLY IF those beneficiaries are also the trusts’ grantors, that is, if they are the beneficiaries of their own trust that they created. Under his scenario, trustees might owe a duty of loyalty to these combination grantors/beneficiaries and so could be required to administer trusts to their benefit. This scenario demonstrates part of the perversity of the law, because this law treats aging beneficiaries far differently depending on if they were the grantors! The trustees would be free to ignore the surviving spouses who did not fund their trusts.

Leaving aging beneficiaries without legal standing is something society doesn’t even inflict on the worst criminal defendants. Even those criminals get their day in court. In other words, this proposed law treats aging trust beneficiaries worse than accused murderers.

Please join me in stopping this misguided proposal from becoming law in the state of Illinois.

Proposed Illinois Law Guarantees Your Trust a Flat Tire

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Call a tow truck and an ambulance: The proposed Illinois adaptation of the Uniform Trust Code is dangerous at any speed.

 

Proposed IL Law Guarantees Your Trust a Flat Tire

Imagine this: Trusts no longer need to benefit their beneficiaries!

 

Executive Summary: The proposed adoption of the Uniform Trust Code to Illinois deletes that Code’s provision that “A trust and its terms must be for the benefit of the beneficiaries.” This provision is simply foundational. It should be restored to the proposed act for any one or more of the following reasons:

First, providing a benefit to the beneficiary is a basic premise of trusts. That’s why they call the person a “beneficiary”! If the beneficiary doesn’t benefit, you no longer have a trust.

Second, in conjunction with manifesting the grantor’s intent, the provision is an indispensible factor for decision-making. In other words, the core telos of trusts is to enhance the beneficiary through the vision of the grantor.

Third, without it, other provisions of the Code become unworkable. Specifically, Section 412 relies on this basic premise to guide modification of the trust because of either impracticality or unanticipated changes in circumstances. Changes to the trust must necessarily heed the benefits for the beneficiary.

Fourth, without this provision, the proposed statute grossly over-defers to old Illinois policy to favor the grantor where in dispute with the beneficiary. Better to acknowledge that both are factors. If the stale policy continues, simply add that the wishes of the grantor should be preferred.

Fifth, the proposal is likely to strengthen trustees’ ability to ignore beneficiaries’ interests with impunity. If beneficiaries don’t matter, they will be abused.

 

In other words, when driving this new statute, trusts are likely to crash and injure the parties they’re supposed to care for.

 

This series of articles addresses one of the proposed changes out of the pending legislation for Illinois to adopt the Uniform Trust Code. This author has no objection to that Code. In fact, the focus here is on the proposed deletion from the Code of the provision that a trust must benefit the beneficiary. That provision articulates an idea and mechanism fundamental to all trust law, including both Illinois prior law as well as the Code.

My opinion is shaped by my 30 plus years of service as an independent individual professional trustee. Trained as and having practiced extensively as an attorney, I now help families in a wide variety of circumstances around their trusts, including helping them to fix broken trusts.

Trusts stop working for many reasons. Oftentimes they fall apart because of their trustees are indifferent, and sometimes even hostile, to the beneficiaries.

Like other professional trustees, I stand to gain from this change in the law because the law makes it harder for beneficiaries to challenge their trustees. Contrary to that financial incentive, I find the proposed change abhorrent because it works against the basic premise that a trust should be administered for the good of the family, not the good of the trustee.

In this article, I detail the relevant parts of the proposed legislation, and how it deviates from the model Code – and from basic trust principles of impartiality and fair play.

Specifically, the proposed legislation deletes the consideration of the benefit to the beneficiaries from four fundamental areas of trust administration, namely:

  • Trust Purposes. Section 404
  • How the Trustee is to Administer the Trust. Section 801: “Duty To Administer Trust.”
  • Duty of Loyalty. Section 802.
  • Changes & Impracticality. Section 412: “Modification Or Termination Because Of Unanticipated Circumstances Or Inability To Administer Trust Effectively.”

Let’s detail these four areas in order.

 

  1. Trust Purposes. Section 404

 

According to the Code, the purpose of a trust is about benefitting the beneficiary:

SECTION 404. TRUST PURPOSES. A trust may be created only to the extent its purposes are lawful, not contrary to public policy, and possible to achieve. A trust and its terms must be for the benefit of its beneficiaries. (emphasis added).

Contrary to that ideal, the proposed legislations deletes the highlighted sentence.

The proponents of the legislation through their published comparison maintain that the deletion was made to preserve Illinois policy:

“This Section was modified slightly from the UTC, removing the statement that “A trust and its terms must be for the benefit of the beneficiaries,” in order to make clear and preserve the state of the law in Illinois that the settlors’ intent is paramount.” (underline added)

Contrary to the legislation’s advocates, this is no slight modification.

This modification destroys the basic purpose of a trust: which is to care for the beneficiary at a time when the grantor cannot.

To that end, the primary measure of success in the trustee’s application of the grantor’s wishes is how the trust benefits the beneficiary.

And it’s no easy task as it is. Reportedly some 80% of beneficiaries already experience their trust as a burden! Removing the standard that there must be some benefit can only make matters worse for beneficiaries.

The deletion also imposes an Orwellian nightmare. Calling that person a “beneficiary” while at the same time decreeing that person doesn’t benefit from the trust is an exercise in newspeak.

Or to make the discussion more current, that person is a fake beneficiary, because by definition a beneficiary MUST benefit. Otherwise, the person is not a beneficiary!

It’s that simple – which is why this proposed change is so perversely wrong!

This wrong-headedness extends into the express duties of how a trustee is to administer a trust. And how a court is to consider the trustee’s administration.

 

  1. How the Trustee is to administer the Trust. Section 801: “Duty To Administer Trust.”

 

In administering a trust, the Code demands the trustee pay heed to the interests of the beneficiaries:

SECTION 801. DUTY TO ADMINISTER TRUST. Upon acceptance of a trusteeship, the trustee shall administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and purposes and the interests of the beneficiaries, and in accordance with this [Code]. [emphasis added]

The proposed legislation deletes the italicized phrase. In other words, the proposed legislation allows the trustee to ignore the interests of the beneficiaries!

According to the drafters of the proposed legislation, this deletion is to confirm Illinois law that the wishes of the grantor are primary:

[Section 801 has been] modified to eliminate reference to ‘interests of the beneficiaries’ in light of the requirement for the trustee to administer a trust in accordance with the trust’s terms and purposes (consistent with Illinois law in focusing on a settlor’s intent).

I’m unaware of an Illinois case in which the court requires ignoring the impact on a beneficiary of a trustee’s decision. That shouldn’t be Illinois policy, either.

 

Trustees should always consider the impact of their actions on the beneficiary, whatever their action.

 

In analyzing a trustee’s actions, a judge should always consider the impact of the trustee’s actions on the beneficiary.

It should not be the only consideration, and it may not be the primary consideration, but how a decision impacts the beneficiary should be part and parcel to judicial review.

To do otherwise is to remove standing of the beneficiary to argue the beneficiary’s interest. Beneficiaries shouldn’t be so bound and gagged.

And with their own voice, beneficiaries should be able to assert the trustee’s duty of loyalty to them, however, the new statute would puncture that duty as well.

 

  1. Duty of Loyalty. Section 802.

 

In Section 802, the Code sets out a half dozen provisions with subparts regarding trust transactions and investments establishing the trustee’s duty of loyalty.

However, the first provision expressly states that the administration shall be “solely” in the interests of the beneficiary:

SECTION 802. DUTY OF LOYALTY.

  • A trustee shall administer the trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries.

The proposed Illinois law deletes paragraph (a) entirely.

The comment of the drafters is that this deletion follows Illinois law:

Consistent with Illinois law that requires that a trust be administered in accordance with the grantor’s intent, this provision eliminates the provision in the UTC that provides that the trust is to be administered solely in the interests of the beneficiaries.

Note especially that the Illinois drafters could have simply deleted the word “solely” if they simply wanted to provide that the interest of the beneficiary wasn’t always to be primary.

They also could have qualified that interest, so that, where there was a conflict, the trustee or court should privilege the vision of the grantor.

Instead, what the drafters did was remove the entire duty of loyalty of the trustee to the beneficiary, and remove any significance of the interests of the beneficiary.

Their proposal is an obscene overstatement of the supposed Illinois policy to prefer the grantor’s vision where it conflicts with the interests of the beneficiary.

Without owing any duty to the beneficiary, the trustee has no concern about what happens to the beneficiary while administering the grantor’s intentions.

Ironically, the grantor will likely suffer as a victim of this cold re-arrangement.

We know that the first beneficiary of the trust is often the grantor, when that grantor has lost capacity. In administering the trust in that situation under the brave new law, the trustee has no duty to inquire as to what that beneficiary may need or want, and has authority to drive the trust only as the grantor previously programmed. Given that situations change and none of us has a crystal ball to predict the future, the administration could well harm the grantor/beneficiary while the trustee is allowed to get paid for carrying out stale instructions.

 

  1. Changes & Impracticality. Section 412: “Modification Or Termination Because Of Unanticipated Circumstances Or Inability To Administer Trust Effectively.”

 

The removal of the benefit the beneficiary provision undermines the Code’s entire approach to the critical mechanism to modify or terminate a trust where the trust isn’t working as it should.

The drafters of the Code twice make clear in their comments that this Section relies on the benefit the beneficiary provision, once expressly:

Section 412(b), which allows the court to modify administrative terms that are impracticable, wasteful, or impair the trust’s administration, is a specific application of the requirement that a trust and its terms be for the benefit of the beneficiaries….

UTC Comment to Section 404. (emphasis added)

…and then again in their practical example where the only change is around what would benefit the beneficiary:

This section [that is, 412] broadens the court’s ability to apply equitable deviation to terminate or modify a trust. Subsection (a) allows a court to modify the dispositive provisions of the trust as well as its administrative terms. For example, modification of the dispositive provisions to increase support of a beneficiary might be appropriate if the beneficiary has become unable to provide for support due to poor health or serious injury….

UTC Comment to Section 412. (emphasis added)

The Code’s example serves well to illustrate the pernicious impact of the proposed law. Consider a trust drafted on the assumption that the beneficiary would be able to be self-sufficient, or assumed that the beneficiary would remain in good health and without injury. Were that beneficiary’s situation to change, that change should be enough on it’s own to cause the trustee to recalibrate distributions. The sole basis of that recalibration is around the benefit that the beneficiary is to receive. Removing that basis allows the trustee to defy the new reality with impunity.

That trustee impunity cannot and should not be allowed!

 

We may dig more deeply into Section 412 in a later article. For present purposes we simply want to connect the dots and show that the proposed Illinois revisions to the Code delete key provisions which require a trust to pay attention to the beneficiary. These are the sections of the proposed statute where that deletion is most apparent and telling.

 

The statute is sitting in committee in Springfield. It should be amended to allow for the necessary and appropriate interests of beneficiaries to their trusts in Illinois.

Or it should be voted down.

Putting this law on the road with its flat tire is dangerous.

 

© Daniel Felix, Felix Group, P.C. 2017 all rights reserved

 

Manchester by the Sea – A Film About a Trustee

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Tough trustee voyage in “Manchester by the Sea”: Award-winning movie also has a lot to say about empowering trust administration

 

Manchester by the Sea has joined my short list of exceptional trustee movies – that’s my list of excellent films which also provide great insights into the world of trusts. For two others on the list, consider both Citizen Kane and The Descendants.

Part of this film’s appeal admittedly is that trustee, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), like Mad Max of the eponymous movie series, is in his own special hell, making his personal redemption through his journey as fiduciary all the sweeter.

So here’s the requisite spoiler alert. Either finish reading this after you go see the film, or use this as a guide as to what to look for.

 

Lee dutifully travels up from his Boston home to the titled town in order to deal with his brother Joe’s untimely, though not unexpected death.

In the course of performing the various duties – funeral arrangement, communications to the family, etc – Lee goes to Joe’s lawyer to review the will. The lawyer reports that Joe appointed Lee both trustee and guardian for Joe’s 16-year-old son, Patrick (Lucas Hedges). I know you’re wondering – the boy’s non-custodial, divorced mother is not a possibility because of her substance abuse.

Lee is shocked at his fiduciary appointments. The attorney protests that he had assumed Joe had cleared the assignments with Lee. So much for the attorney proactively confirming this essential piece of the transition in advance. 

But here’s one of the narrow exceptions to lining-up one’s fiduciaries in advance: Lee insists he would not have accepted the positions if his brother had asked him.

We know this is true. Lee is crippled by having contributed to the house fire which resulted in the deaths of all three of his young children some years before. We witness his ongoing self-flagellation, including later simple, but devastating scenes in which he carefully packs the frames holding the photos of his deceased children into the bag to bring to Manchester just to set them out again for his personal display in his temporary quarters at Joe’s house.

Since the fire, Lee has shut himself out from all meaningful relationships. Further, he can’t contemplate being responsible for a child again.

And so Lee tries the next best thing: to resign the fiduciary positions for his nephew. But he has no success. He therefore continues his fairly efficient job in taking care of Joe’s final tasks.

Our insight into Lee’s immediately prior life is as an apartment building janitor, emerged in a steady stream of tasks, and engaged, and often enraged, by the sometimes appreciative and sometimes hostile tenants – and bracketed by the occasional drunken fights at a local tavern. He’s fighting a losing battle to cope through repression.

Lee is clearly good at project management and execution in both his present and past worlds – good skills for a trustee! In contrast, Lee’s modest ability to exercise control and aloofness as a janitor is challenged as he’s forced to deal with circumstances around his nephew, whom he clearly cares for.

This solid relationship is demonstrated in the flashback of them fishing, while Patrick is young. And we have the happy ending of the movie, depicted with a view of the two of them once again fishing together. These scenes bracket the demonstrated importance of building the trustee relationship before need. But I’m getting a bit ahead.

With the death of his father, Patrick’s relationship with his uncle, Lee, is understandably stressed. Some of this is caused by both of their inabilities to demonstrate much of the emotions that are seething and consistent with their macho culture. Lee’s non-empathetic communications with his nephew are understandable, but no less counter-productive. And Patrick’s inevitable breakdown is likely more intense and troubling because of it.

In fact, the movie also does a lovely job in highlighting the beneficiary’s arc from indifference to awakening.

 

Patrick is shown going about his life as usual immediately after his father’s death, including going to school the next day, and making more time with his two girlfriends without the limits that his father had imposed.

Though he accompanies his uncle Lee on some of his tasks, Patrick does not at first invest in the process. And so he sits working his smartphone in the waiting room of the lawyer’s office. On the way back to the car, however, Patrick expresses interest in the details as to his father’s commercial fishing business, and particularly his boat.

The wonderful ensuing dialogue is as follows, though even better with the visuals in the movie as they walk through the cold in search for Lee’s car:

Nephew: What about the boat?

Uncle: We’ll talk to George [father’s trusted employee] about it. There’s no use hanging onto it if no one’s going to use it.

Nephew: I’m going to use it.

Uncle: It’s got to be maintained.

Nephew: I’m maintaining it. I’m going to maintain it.

Uncle: You can’t maintain it by yourself.

Nephew: Why not? It’s my boat now, isn’t it?

Uncle: Because you’re a minor. You can’t take it out alone. And I’m the trustee because I get to make the payments, I get to keep up the inspections.

Nephew: So what does ‘trustee’ mean?

Uncle: It means I’m in charge of handling everything for you until you …

Nephew: Does that mean you’re allowed to sell the boat if I don’t want you to?

Uncle: … turn 18. I don’t know. I’ll definitely consider it.

Nephew: No [expletive] way.

The power of trustee dynamic is especially fraught when it’s unpacked for the first time during the heightened post-mortem emotions.

 

To Lee’s credit, he does take on meeting Patrick’s desires and requests. This is an all the more impressive achievement, because the path is not clear and is strewn with obstacles. As to the boat, Lee rejects Patrick’s ideas on how to go forward: both continued use while unrepaired as well as securing a repair loan without the means to repay it.

Happily, Lee recognizes an opportunity through the sale of Joe’s extensive firearm collection to provide the necessary funds. This is creative administration at its best: finding the sometimes-not-so-obvious means to empower the beneficiary.

Lee also creatively addresses Patrick’s other desire: to continue living in their home town, which his uncle abandoned after the death of his own children. Lee tries first to find for himself a job in Manchester, but isn’t able to due to the town’s prejudice over his involvement with his children’s deaths.

Faced with the challenge of not being able to stay in the town himself, Lee eventually solves the problem by transferring some, but not all, of his fiduciary responsibilities to George. And so we see a trustee fulfilling his responsibilities to do right by his beneficiary by handing them on to someone else.

Finally, the movie achieves a positive Hollywood ending, even out of this bleak fact pattern, by showing how the entire painful process has moved Lee a bit closer towards his own personal redemption. Lee is now enjoying a positive ongoing relationship, specifically his relationship with Patrick. One step forward is the warm final fishing scene, which echoed the fond memories of the past.

Another step forward into real relationships is Lee’s decision to lease a larger apartment back in Boston to include a room for when Patrick will visit. The dialogue between the two, however, poses a question as to whether Patrick will visit. But Patrick has an appreciation for his uncle’s devastation – Patrick is stopped short by his uncle’s display of the photos of his deceased cousins. An appreciation which we’d expect is likely to grow over Patrick’s maturity.

I have to believe that Patrick will visit his uncle and that Lee’s redemption will continue. After all, those seriously on this fiduciary journey, like Lee Chandler, can’t help but move forward.

The Power of a Trust for the Good of a Family

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Gary Shunk has been helping families across the country for years in sorting and smoothing family dynamics – helping families stay together and even thrive.

So it makes sense that Gary has a lot of insight as to trusts – and recognizes trusts as a primary tool in helping families over time.

In his recent blog, Gary observes: ” A trust is a vehicle with the potential to fund positive outcomes of freedom, creative expression and independence in the lives of beneficiaries. Monies from a trust, coupled with education and empathy create a successful and purposeful trust process leading to individual and family flourishing.”

Read the full text of Gary’s wisdom here, which includes the compelling story of the young woman who was surprised to find out she was the beneficiary of a huge trust.   Warning: she didn’t have the reaction you might first guess.

Talking about healthy trusts

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The red flags for a successful trust for your family include:

  • advisor collaboration,
  • recognizing and handling emotionalism well,
  • managing risks, and
  • aligning goals.

I’m pleased to join up with a couple of other solid professionals – Marty Fogarty and Doug Harman — for two sets of  conversations in Northbrook in October.   Set one, is on the mornings of the 9th and the 16th;  Set #2 on the evenings of the 16th and 17th.

Come as many times as you want:  it’s open and free and in a fine setting:  the Five Seasons Family Sports Club.

Here’s the write up in the Northbrook Patch as well as in the Tribune Local.