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Financial Planning > Trusts and Estates > Trust Planning

Most trust donors retain control of investments

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Two-thirds of personal trust assets at independent trust companies are held in accounts where donors or their advisors retain discretionary control over investments, according to a new report.

Tiburon Strategic Advisors discloses this finding in a June 2013 study, “Estate Planning: Leveraging Wills, Trusts, Donor Advised Funds, & Foundations to Transfer Assets & Values.” The survey reviews of estate planning objectives, addresses the three historical phases of the estate planning market, defines five estate planning methods and techniques, and makes four predictions for the estate planning market.

The survey reveals that three-quarters of independent trust companies offer charitable consulting services. And two-thirds of independent trust companies offer foundation management services.

Additionally, more than three-quarters of independent trust companies offer estate administration services. Fewer than half of these companies offer donor advised fund administration. And less than 10 percent of independent trust companies offer individual retirement account trusts.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Nearly half of consumers die with less than $10,000 in assets;
  • Just 2.3 percent of estates pay taxes, up from 1.0 percent in 1930;
  • 15,000 estate tax returns were filed this year, down from 108,000 in 2001;
  • California and Florida have the greatest state estate tax receipts with $937 million and $779 million respectively;
  • Charitable contributions are $280 billion, up over 150 percent since 1990. Almost half of charitable contributions are made to religious organizations;
  • Nearly two-thirds of consumers review their estate plans at least every three years;
  • Nearly three-quarters of baby boomer women are expected to outlive their husbands due to longer life expectancies and their tendency to marry older men;
  • Only 42 percent of consumers have wills, down from 47 percent in 2000;
  • More than three-quarters of affluent consumer households have wills;
  • Only one-quarter of consumers have created powers of attorney for health-care decisions;
  • Only one-quarter of consumers have created durable powers of attorney for financial decisions;
  • Almost two-thirds of affluent consumer households have living wills;
  • Of the four million personal trusts, about two-thirds are revocable living trusts;
  • Of the $3.3 trillion assets held in personal trust accounts, about two-thirds is in revocable living trusts;
  • Irrevocable trust assets under management have reached $1.6 trillion, up 60 percent since 2000;
  • More than two-thirds of irrevocable trust accounts utilize a corporate trustee;
  • Fewer than one-fifth of trustees have stated guidelines and procedures for reviewing their  trusts’ life insurance policies;
  • Three-quarters of ultra-high net worth consumers’ greatest fear with respect to protecting their wealth is that someone will take advantage of a child or grandchild for financial gain;
  • More than two-thirds of ultra-high net worth consumers are concerned that they will be the target of an unfounded lawsuit;
  • Personal trust assets account for one-quarter of total assets under administration at independent trust companies.


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