Several years ago, my husband was deployed with his National Guard Reserve unit to Kosovo for a year and a half, leaving me to oversee the home front with our young children.
Despite years in the corporate arena, I was taken aback at the prospect of going solo to keep my career and busy household running on all cylinders. My experience as a trust professional gave me a sense of what it must be like when spouses lose a partner to illness, accident or long-term incapacity, and why having a trust can be so helpful to a survivor’s well being.
Brokers, along with the client’s attorney and CPA, are often key advisors to a family and can assist family members in recognizing the need for a trust as part of an overall financial plan.
Brokers are often in direct and regular contact with the client and have a good foundation regarding the client’s goals and financial situation. That enables brokers to coordinate a client’s financial situation and be ready when the client faces trying times. Furthermore, a family’s trusted broker can manage investments within trusts.
A corporate trustee can help a healthy spouse who, in circumstances of high emotion and high stress, is suddenly overwhelmed with medical decisions, visits to the hospital/nursing home and the general stress of caretaking. It is a great comfort for the healthy spouse to know that the trustee, for instance, will conduct the laborious task of weeding through medical bills and paying only that portion for which the insurance company is not responsible.
Brokers play a large role by continuing to invest the assets in the trust based on their historical and in-depth knowledge of the client’s family, so there is a smooth financial transition during this stressful time. The best time to make these most crucial financial and estate planning decisions is, of course, before anything bad happens.
If your clients need a trust, they will need to decide who will serve as trustee. As the financial services industry matures, clients need to be aware that they have more to choose from than in the past. Good brokers usually are affiliated with, or have access to, trust services to ensure they can manage their clients’ wealth and safeguard their portfolios from cross-selling bankers.