Choosing a Personal Trust Representative

If you’re thinking about setting up a trust, you should also be thinking about who you should choose to act as your trustee.  Serving as trustee can be a complicated and time-consuming job, so the decision takes very careful consideration.  The primary job of the trustee is to carry out the terms of your trust, which includes managing the trust assets for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries.  A trustee, like every fiduciary, has a legal obligation to act responsibly and in good faith.  A trustee can be an individual, an institution, such as a bank or a trust company, or a combination of both.

Desirable qualities of a trustee include:

  • Investment Knowledge – Your trustee should be capable of investing the trust assets productively and prudently.
  • Objectivity – Your trustee will be called on to make careful, objective decisions that are in the best interests of your beneficiaries.
  • Availability – Your trustee will need to have sufficient time, possibly over many years, to administer the trust, manage the trust assets, and attend to the needs of your beneficiaries.

Duties and Responsibilities may include:

  • Accounting and administrative duties, such as paying bills, retitling assets, and bookkeeping
  • Managing the trust assets, including reviewing investment performance, maintaining records, tracking investments, and collecting dividends and other income
  • Administering the trust and seeking legal counsel when needed
  • Maintaining and transferring real estate, including obtaining titles, deeds, and appraisals
  • Managing, appraising, and disposing of any business interests held in the trust
  • Distributing personal property held in the trust
  • Settling your estate, including preparing tax returns, paying creditors, and arranging for the final distribution of assets
  • Distributing trust assets according to the terms of the trust

Whom can you trust?

We believe that naming a corporate trustee has clear advantages.  Choosing an inexperienced trustee could seriously jeopardize the future well-being of your family.  Our investment decisions are well researched, fact-based and never influenced by rumors, tips, or imprudent advice that can lead an individual trustee to make poor investment choices.  Also, unlike an individual trustee, we will not die, move away, or be forced to put your trust on the back burner because of personal or business demands. One phone call to us and we can put all the pieces together.

When you name First Merchants Trust Company as trustee, we serve in a number of capacities on your behalf.

  • We start by finding out the purpose of your trust.
  • When the time comes for investment decisions to be made about the assets in your trust, we will do that based on your investment guidelines and your risk tolerance.  If you want more input in the decision-making process, we can make recommendations for your consideration.  These recommendations are based on investment research and the available market data. Keep in mind, either way, we regularly monitor your portfolio and can adjust your investment program as your situation and needs change.
  • Tax aspects of a trust can be overwhelming for an individual trustee. We have experienced professionals who can anticipate any complications regarding income taxes and gift and estate taxes. We can also issue tax reports to you and your trust beneficiaries and file the income tax return for your trust.
  • We will make sure that all trust records are thorough and up-to-date. We will collect your investment income, and deposit, disburse, or reinvest that income as your trust agreement directs. We will also prepare periodic statements for you (or other trust beneficiaries).
  • We will see to it that your trust assets are protected by providing safekeeping for your securities. Your assets will be kept separate from other trust accounts and from bank assets. And, unlike an individual trustee, we won't die, move away, or be distracted by personal concerns.


What if something happens to me?

Jane knows that when illness strikes, finances often suffer. Jane had always considered herself a strong person, both inwardly and outwardly. But she also has always considered herself a realistic person.

Jane’s dear friend was temporarily incapacitated, and a distant relative had managed through the legal proceedings to take over the friend’s finances…and do significant damage to them before the friend could regain control.

Jane wants to avoid anything like this happening to her! She realizes she will need help looking after her financial affairs when she becomes unable to. But she wonders whom she will be able to turn to who will have the needed expertise and be trustworthy.

FMTC can help Jane put an estate plan in place and can act as her representative to carry out her wishes. We have the expertise and we are trustworthy.