by JoDell Bourgois

As people journey through life, many are blessed to accumulate wealth andfinancial security. As life is winding down, many families face the unfamiliar task of transferring this wealth to their family members.  Using a trust is a common way to achieve this goal.

There are many advantages to using a trust in your estate plan.  If you do not have an estate plan, learn more about the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your goals and desires for your family’s financial future are in place by visiting with a trust officer and attorney. A well-prepared estate plan will:

  • Ease the transfer of your wealth to your loved ones.
  • Avoid probate and maintain privacy.
  • Provide for your family’s financial security.
  • Provide for the care of children with special needs.
  • Fulfill charitable giving desires.
  • Minimize estate and transfer taxes.

The first step to establishing a trust is meeting with an attorney to draft the trust document and determine the proper trustee appointed by you to oversee the affairs of the trust.  A trustee is a person or entity that holds and administers property or assets for the benefit of your loved ones.  A trustee may be an individual person or a corporate entity, depending on your needs.  Choosing the correct trustee is a very important task.  The trustee you choose will be implementing your goals and desires as directed by you in the trust document. Keep in mind the complexity of your financial plan when making this decision.  Many times, appointing a corporate trustee is in the best interest of your loved ones; it’s important that the trustee is capable of serving in this important role.

“Corporate trustees perform their fiduciary responsibility with the highest level of trust, loyalty, and care,” explains Samantha Victor, Trust Officer at Kirkwood Bank & Trust. “Choosing a corporate trustee provides a professional and knowledgeable team of administrators and advisors who act in the best interests of all beneficiaries with no conflict of interest.”

A common reason to establish a trust is to provide for the care of a loved one with special needs.  A special needs trust may continue well beyond your death and it is important to appoint a trustee that is capable of fulfilling this important role over a long period of time.  As time passes, the needs of your loved one may go unmet.  Agencies such as Guardian and Protective Services (GaPS), are able to step in and provide services for those people who are in need and have no family members available to assist them.  Agencies like this often become a great blessing to people in need and may be able to improve their quality of life by providing security, both financially and emotionally.

“GaPS is often seen as a safety net for vulnerable individuals who have nobody able to assist them,” explains Audrey Uhrich, Program Director for Guardian & Protective Services.

“Regardless of a person’s financial resources, our agency supports the individual by helping the  person achieve and/or maintain financial stability, eligibility for assistance programs, and a safe, stable, least-restrictive residence.  Without this type of assistance, many of our most vulnerable citizens would be left to fend for themselves.”

The start of a new year is typically a time to start fresh. Peace on earth has been the wish of many through the holiday season. Starting 2017 with a trust for your estate plan could bring you and your family untold peace in your own world.

JoDell BourgoisJoDell Bourgois, CTFA (Certified Trust & Financial Advisor), is the Senior Trust Officer at Kirkwood Bank & Trust in Bismarck. JoDell and her husband, Marcel, have three children. JoDell enjoys spending time with her family and friends and loves to travel.