Law News and Tips
Trustees and Cats
TRUSTEES AND CATS
Fred L. Vilbig © 2017
I got a call from someone at my church a few months ago. They had received a report about a parishioner. Allegedly a financial adviser was taking advantage of an elderly woman. They asked me to check into it. I did some investigating and found out that contrary to what I heard, the financial adviser was providing excellent service and was even providing a lot of personal help as well.
However, in the course of my investigations, I got the impression that the woman needed more help than she was getting. She was living alone, with no surviving close family, and her health was failing. Someone needed to help her, but as I said, she did not have any close family or any friends to help out.
People sometimes have a funny reaction when I mention corporate trustees. They seem to get a picture of a person who sits in their office making financial decisions all the time. Yes, they do that, but they do so much more than that if necessary.
In that particular situation, I called Constance Moore at Commerce Trust Company. Connie is a kind of a geriatric adviser. In addition to being a trust officer, she is an Advanced Professional Certified Care Manager, trained to help clients navigate the maze of elder care. Like many trust officers, she investigates retirement facilities, nursing homes, home health services, and the like to insure quality. She is constantly checking and rechecking facilities, particularly when there is a change in ownership or management. She knows where to get the best value for their customers’ money and has a goal of helping to improve their quality of life. In this particular situation, she was able to find a great facility that worked wonderfully for my client.
Corporate trustees provide all kinds of non-financial services. Kathleen Selinger at Central Trust told me about one of their customers who lives alone in a big house. She has family, but they are all busy with their own lives. I am seeing that more and more with families. If there are children, they may live in a different state or they may just be too busy with their own lives. I am also seeing a lot of people who don’t have any kids to step in when necessary. In these cases, the person is often alone. Anyway, Kathleen told me that with one of their larger clients, she often goes by and sorts her mail with her. The client’s eyesight is failing a little, but she also just likes the company.
I heard one of the most heartwarming stories from Rich Arnold with The Private Bank. One of their clients had a vacation home in Florida. One time when she was down there, she suffered a stroke and was admitted to the hospital. When she was well enough, they brought her back to St. Louis.
The problem was that when the client went to Florida, she took her beloved cat with her. When she came back to St. Louis, they couldn’t just leave the cat there for a neighbor to look after her.Someone had to go get the cat. So one of the trust officers flew to Florida, rented a car, picked up the cat, and drove back to St. Louis for a joyful reunion. Trust officers get all of the glory jobs, don’t they?
As I mentioned, there are a lot of older people who for one reason or another don’t have family to look after them and help. As baby boomers age, we’re probably going to see that more often. Although corporate trustees are not the solution to every problem, under the right circumstances, they can be a real life saver. Yes, they provide great financial services, but they also provide much more than that. They can provide cat retrieval services too, and who wouldn’t want that?
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