Solidifying the Adviser Relationship through Creative Trust Planning

Posted on: June 13th, 2014
Solidifying the Adviser Relationship 
through Creative Trust Planning
Clients have worked hard to amass their wealth. Many have developed close ties to their advisers in the 
process, including financial advisers, CPAs and attorneys. Will those ties be broken if they become 
incapacitated or die? Do they want their successor Trustee or their Personal Representative to make that 
decision? This issue of The Wealth Counselor examines some ways in which the planning team can help 
clients address this important issue. 
Shaping the Level of Adviser Involvement
Your clients have carefully chosen their adviser to provide them advice. The strength of their desire that such 
advice continue if they become incapacitated or die is often related to the length of the relationship and, for 
example, the amount of assets under that adviser's management. 
Once apprised of the possibilities, clients often choose to have continuity of that advice and the client/adviser 
relationship, so it is incumbent upon the planning team to discuss and address these issues. There are at least 
two distinct approaches that clients can use: 
• Create a document stating their desires 
• Provide direction in their estate planning documents 
The advantages and disadvantages of each of the above approaches are discussed below. 
Naming the Trusted Adviser in a Separate Document
The simplest and least formal approach is for the client to express, in a signed document that is separate from 
their estate planning documents, the desire for the continued use of a trusted adviser. Commonly, the document 
is a memorandum or letter that refers to the adviser by name or as, for example, a "financial adviser who is 
managing a significant portion of my estate, as determined by my Trustee (or Personal Representative)." 
Significantly, this approach is merely precatory - that is, it is a suggestion that reflects the client's desire, but 
the successor Trustee or the Personal Representative is not obligated to follow the client's suggestion. 
Planning Tip: Using a memorandum or letter to express a desire for continued reliance on a particular adviser 
is the simplest and most flexible approach. On the other hand, it provides the least predictability because it is 
not binding and thus does not ensure realization of the client's objectives. 
Planning Tip: To increase the likelihood that the client's desire will be realized, copies of the memorandum or 
letter should be put with their estate planning documents and provided to the attorney, adviser, CPA and, as the 
client ages, to the named Successor Trustee or Personal Representative. To avoid confusion, later changed 
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