A trust company is a legal corporation that acts as an agent, fiduciary, or trustee for an individual or business in order to administer, manage, and eventually transfer any assets to the beneficiary.  The word ‘trust’ in the name trust company refers to the ability of the corporation to act as a trustee, who is someone who oversees financial assets on behalf of someone else.  Typically, the assets are held in a trust, which is a legal document that clearly outlines who the beneficiaries are and what the money can used for.  Trust companies act as custodians for asset management, beneficial ownership registration, custodial arrangements, estates, stock transfer, trusts, and other similar arrangements.

Services Provided by a Trust Company

Wealth Planning

A trust company can help determine a plan so that you can reach your investment goals, whatever they may be.  They can also set up your assets and manage your trust in a manner that ensures that you and any beneficiaries receive the greatest possible benefit.  They handle concerns such as having enough money to retire comfortably, to pay for your children’s education, or to cover health care concerns.  Additionally, they deal with concerns regarding how to divide your assets fairly between your heirs.

Investment Management

A trust company first forms an investment strategy that best suits your lifestyle, family needs, financial goals, and level of risk tolerance.  The strategy is designed to optimize the return potential.  Utilizing the company’s extensive knowledge of thousands of companies around the world, investments are made in select industries or sectors of the market, and then closely monitored.  Portfolios are reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that they continue to meet your requirements in the most effective manner possible.

Trust and Estate Services

A trust company can assist you in your estate and succession planning.  It has the expertise to help you create a flexible plan to deal with any tax or legal complexities that may arise.  This way your estate is protected from taxes, flexible in order to adjust for future changes, and able to handle any claims made by potential creditors.  Trust companies understand the complexities of estate law and therefore can help structure your estate so that all inheritance taxes and probate costs are minimized.

Trust companies can also assist you in setting up a trust.  A trust is a legal entity set up by an individual to manage his or her assets.  Trusts are created during a person’s lifetime to ensure that all assets are used in a manner deemed appropriate by the individual setting up the trust.  After the assets are placed in a trust, a trustee manages those assets.  The trustee oversees how the assets should be invested and how the assets are distributed after the trust owner passes away.  However, all decisions made by the trustee are governed by the guidelines set out when the trust was originally created.

There are two main types of trusts, the revocable or living trust, and the irrevocable trust.  The owner can change the terms of a revocable trust at any point in time.  The terms set out in an irrevocable trust cannot be changed.  After the assets are transferred to an irrevocable trust, the benefactor no longer has any rights of ownership or control.  Individuals wishing to reduce the amount of tax payable when he or she passes away typically choose irrevocable trusts.

Estate Settlement or Administration

You can name a trust company as your executor or personal representative in your will.  This places the executor responsibilities of your estate in the hands of a knowledgeable professional.  Doing so means that you do not have to place that burden on a family member or close friend.  You can be assured that the trust company will efficiently handle the work of executor, which includes collecting any money owed, paying off any debt or taxes, inventorying all assets for the probate court and, finally, distributing all assets and wealth to the beneficiaries.

In addition, a trust company, or trust officer, can provide guardian or conservator services.  Guardian services would include overseeing the property of minor children until they reach adulthood and are able to make those decisions for themselves.  Conservator services include managing the estate for an adult who is no longer capable of making those decisions.