Frequently Asked Questions

Expand all

Q – What is estate and trust settlement?

Numerous duties need to be handled to ensure an orderly transition of a decedent’s assets and legal obligations, whether their estate plan avoids probate or not.

If the settlement of a decedent’s financial and legal affairs is handled through the probate process, it is referred to as an estate settlement. The individual or entity that bears legal responsibility for this process may be known as the personal representative, executor (executrix) or administrator of the estate (different states use different terms).

If the decedent had an interest in one or more trusts that will terminate or change as a result of the death, the process of terminating or changing the trust(s) is known as a trust settlement. In some cases there may be both an estate (probate) settlement and a trust settlement for the same decedent, depending on the nature of the decedent’s property, legal obligations, and account titling and beneficiary designations on the various assets.

Q – How do you charge your fees?

For most trusts our fee is calculated as a percentage of the trust’s market value. Fees are generally prorated and charged monthly, subject to a monthly minimum fee. For certain types of trusts the fee may be a flat annual fee. Please note that our fees do not include investment management, which is provided by outside money managers and is subject to their own fee and/or expense structure. Tax preparation services are additional, whether provided by the client’s own tax preparer subject to their own fee/expense structure or by Fiduciary Partners. Certain other services have their own fee schedules, such as custody services and estate/trust settlement services. Please contact one of our trust officers for additional details.

Q – What is required to name Fiduciary Partners in a will or trust agreement?

To name Fiduciary Partners to serve in a future capacity, the applicable legal document(s) should refer to our legal name, Fiduciary Partners Trust Company. We do not require any other specific language in the document. Some clients prefer to name a particular investment advisor/manager for the trust in their will or trust agreement. If this is not specifically directed in the document we will confirm the choice of investment advisor/manager with the applicable beneficiaries at the time we begin serving.

Some clients/attorneys ask us to review a draft of the will/trust before signing or ask for our input on particular document language. We are happy to review drafts of wills/trusts that name Fiduciary Partners, at no cost or obligation. We appreciate, but do not require, receiving copies of documents naming Fiduciary Partners after signing.

To name Fiduciary Partners in a current capacity, please see below: How do I open an account with Fiduciary Partners?

Q – How do I open an account with Fiduciary Partners?

Clients and/or their advisors may open accounts with Fiduciary Partners in 3 ways:

Transfer an Existing Trust AccountFirst, send us a current account statement and copy of the legal documentation (will or trust) governing the trust. Second, we review the legal documentation and statement of assets, notify you if we will accept the trust and, if so, notify you of the transfer documents or processes required to transfer the trust. Third, once the applicable transfer documents or processes have been signed or completed, we confirm the choice of investment advisor/manager with the trust beneficiaries and contact the current trustee/custodian to arrange for transfer of trust assets to Fiduciary Partners or to the client’s preferred custodian.

Establish a New Trust AccountFirst, send us a draft of the trust agreement for review and acceptance prior to signing. Second, once the trust has been signed, we confirm the choice of investment advisor/manager for the trust with the client or trust beneficiaries, if not specified in the trust agreement. Third, we open the appropriate trust account(s) at Fiduciary Partners or the client’s preferred custodian, working with the designated investment advisor/manager.

Other Account Types – The process for opening other types of accounts (e.g. custody account, IRA, qualified retirement plan, irrevocable life insurance trust, estate or trust settlement, etc.) varies depending on the account type and current location of the assets that will fund the account. Please contact a Fiduciary Partners trust officer for more details.

Q – Do you hold real estate in trusts?

Yes. We hold real estate in many of the trusts we administer.  As a trustee that does not manage investments, we are willing to hold most types of real estate provided we have written direction:  in the trust agreement, from the trust beneficiaries, or from the trust’s investment manager to hold the property; and we have a clear understanding of our administrative responsibilities.

    For some types of real estate such as commercial or residential rental property, many administrative tasks may be delegated to a professional property manager. Regardless of the type of property, we administer the trust according to its terms and take such other actions as may be required by the terms and circumstances of the particular trust.

Q – Will you serve as a co-trustee of a trust?

Yes. We serve as co-trustee of trusts, co-personal representative (executor) of estates and as co-fiduciary in other fiduciary roles.  Some individuals like to include co-trustees as part of their estate plan, such as an individual co-trustee and a corporate co-trustee.  This is often seen as a way to combine input from an individual who may have direct knowledge of the trust beneficiaries or family situation, with the administrative expertise, technical knowledge, impartiality, professional procedures and oversight of a corporate trustee.Others prefer to name an advisor to the trustee, a Trust Protector for the trust, or to communicate informally with the trustee from time to time about the goals of the trust.

Regardless of the structure or circumstances, our goal as trustee is to achieve the purpose outlined in the trust agreement and to act in the best interests of the trust beneficiaries at all times, acting within the terms of the trust agreement and applicable laws.

Q – Do you administer special needs trusts?

Yes. Fiduciary Partners serves as trustee of special needs trusts (also known as supplemental needs trusts) for individuals with disabilities, which are typically established to help trust beneficiaries preserve any government benefits for which they are, or may be, eligible.  Since the rules and procedures for these trusts vary from state to state, and sometimes county to county, we work closely with the designated attorney for the trust who is familiar with the rules and procedures for special needs trusts and related government benefits in the beneficiary’s own county of residence.We administer the trust according to the terms with a goal of meeting the beneficiary’s needs while preserving their government benefits, where possible, and take such other actions as may be required by the terms and circumstances of the particular trust.

Q – Do you serve as a trustee for irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)?

Yes. As trustee of an ILIT, we partner with the client’s legal and other advisors (including insurance and investment managers) to provide the best possible package of services for our clients.  Consistent with our business model, we do not manage investments or sell investment products, including insurance policies.  Our services relate to the administrative aspects of the trust, and may include (but are not limited to) the following, subject to the terms of the trust agreement:

  1. Provide safekeeping of the insurance policy contract(s).
  2. Confirm that the trust is the owner and beneficiary of the life insurance policies.
  3. Use discretion to pay premiums when due, if the trust has sufficient funds
    to do so.
  4. Notify the grantor (or the appropriate persons) of the trust’s cash requirements.
  5. Provide notices to holders of the trust withdrawal rights (“Crummey notices”) in accordance with the trust agreement.
  6. Provide reports and information to appropriate parties relative to the administration and transactions of the trust.
  7. Use discretion in distributing income and/or principal to trust beneficiaries, as provided in the trust agreement.
  8. Work with the insurance/investment professional designated by the trust beneficiary(ies), who will manage the insurance policy(ies) on an ongoing basis.
  9. Provide such other services as may be required under the circumstances, consistent with the terms of the trust agreement and applicable laws.

Q – Are Client Accounts at Fiduciary Partners Trust Company FDIC Insured?

FDIC insures only bank deposit accounts. Fiduciary Partners Trust Company does not offer bank deposit accounts. Fiduciary Partners Trust Company client accounts are the property of the account holder and are not subject to the claims of Fiduciary Partners’ creditors.

Fiduciary Partners Trust Company is covered by Trust Errors & Omissions Liability Insurance and Financial Institution Bond Insurance. We are also examined regularly by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions and by independent auditors Wipfli LLP, to ensure client accounts are managed in accordance with sound fiduciary principles.

Q – How did the change from Fiduciary Partners, Inc. to Fiduciary Partners Trust Company affect clients?

As of June 12, 2017, Fiduciary Partners Trust Company became the successor to Fiduciary Partners, Inc. and as such, succeeded to the fiduciary role of Fiduciary Partners, Inc. Please note that for all intents and purposes this change did not affect existing account(s) with us, nor should it require changes to any existing legal documents naming Fiduciary Partners, Inc.

Further, this change did not change our way of doing business. We are still regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, no staffing changes occurred because of this change, our ownership team and business model as an independent trust company did not change, and our commitment to providing excellent trust services for our clients continues.

We appreciate your confidence in Fiduciary Partners and the continued opportunity to be of service. If you have any further questions about this change, please feel free to contact us.