by Kevin Karpe, Heritage Trust
When I was 25 years old and new to the business, I served as a trustee for a 90 year-old Holocaust survivor. That experience not only changed my view of what it means to administer trusts, but helped shape my view of the world. She asked that we get together on a weekly basis to talk about her investments, but when I’d come to see her, I would have two bottles of wine with me. One to drink, one to last her through the week. She explained so much more to me than I would have ever been able to explain to her. Twenty-five years and a couple of generations later, I’m still administering a family trust and repeating those stories the grandmother entrusted to her family.
As relationship managers, we take our duty very seriously. There’s more to managing a relationship than can be contained in the four corners of a document. We take time to get to know our clients very closely. It’s our obligation to understand the expectations of a grantor while recognizing the needs and aspirations of the beneficiaries. In a nutshell, we spend our days transferring wealth, as well as values, to the next generation.
My enjoyment comes from working with families, often over multiple generations. A relationship with a family can be short and simple, like administering an estate over the span of a few months, or last for decades, like managing a trust for grandchildren.
We ask our clients, “What legacy do they want to leave?” Not necessarily spending or budgeting or asset management, but what are your values and what values do you want pass on?
A common mistake clients can make is drafting a trust document and then not readdressing the overall plan when there’s a big life event such as a divorce, a child graduates from college or reaches a certain age. Those are all good opportunities to readdress your intent and adjust accordingly.
When it comes to selecting a fiduciary to work with, I think it’s important to look at the following things: Experience. Independence. Rapport. Clients need to have confidence in the institution as a whole and look at their history.
As a relationship manager, I look forward to the unique life stories and legacies each client brings and figuring out how we can do our part to pass on that legacy.