Choosing an Executor and Trustee with a Family Business

Choosing an Executor and Trustee UMass
with a Family Business

by Kevin M. Flatley
Director, Estate Planning
The Private Bank at Bank of Boston

For over twenty-five years, I have been involved in settling estate planning issues with Bank of Boston clients who own a family business.Over this time I have seen a dramatic change in the way clients choose an executor and trustee.

Early in my career, lawyers and other trusted family advisors routinely suggested a bank trustee, and it was usually a wise choice.The bank settled competing family claims to the business and other assets; advised the family of the future course of the trust; and invested the trust wisely.The bank also accounted to the state and federal tax authorities and the probate court, if necessary.Everything was done in one location, and a most disruptive time in life became somewhat settled.

In the past ten years, though, lawyers and other advisors came to realize that with a bank trustee, “control” passed to the bank, and other advisors were forced into the sidelines.Aware if this, the lawyer as trustee stepped forward.This trend toward lawyers as trustees in itself is not unsettling as some of Boston’s large law firms have been managing trusts for almost as long as some of the “younger” Boston banks. More…