Trusts & Estate Planning Advisory Services

Trust departments of financial institutions, private family offices and professional and non-professional fiduciaries frequently encounter changes in law and specific situational challenges. These complex issues require sophisticated advice on the operation of professional fiduciary offices and risk management issues involving the administration of trusts and estates. Goodwin’s Trusts & Estate Practice has extensive experience with state and federal statutes and regulations governing trust departments and the duties and obligations of trustees and personal representatives and can offer solutions and add value in a way that allows our clients to maximize their time and resources.

Our comprehensive advisory services include:

  • In-depth advice on best practices for fiduciary offices and trust departments 
  • Helping fiduciaries with risk management and conflict resolution in matters involving trusts and estates
  • Providing legal and tax advice regarding the administration of trusts and estates
  • Onsite presentations to fiduciary staff regarding the impact of changes in the law on the administration of trusts and estates

Best Practices

Establishing trust departments: Develop policies and procedures that conform to state and federal law, including risk management policies 
Policy review: Improve or strengthen the operation of trust departments and determine whether policies and procedures are consistent with the latest changes in the law 
Audits: Address fiduciary issues identified in audits by banking regulators and the SEC 
Divided duties: Assist with issues associated with divided trustee duties, such as serving as a directed or administrative trustee 
Mergers and acquisitions: Conduct due diligence in connection with the acquisition or merger of trust departments 
Based on extensive experience: Eric Hayes has over 30 years of experience overseeing the trust departments of many of the largest banks in Boston

Risk Management

Account assessment: Review trust instruments before clients accept the office of trustee to identify potential areas of conflict between trustees and/or beneficiaries and “gray” areas in instruments 
Risk tolerance: Identify risk factors for fiduciaries and analyze tolerance for risk in the ongoing process of estate and trust administration 
Conflicts: Assist in responding to questions raised by beneficiaries with the goal of avoiding litigation and represent fiduciaries in actions alleging breach of trust 
Regulatory complaints: Respond to complaints filed with state and federal regulatory authorities 
Uniform Probate and Uniform Trust Codes: Prepare or review compromise agreements governed by the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code and non-judicial settlement agreements governed by the Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code 
First-hand experience: Because our attorneys also serve as trustees and personal representatives, we have first-hand experience with issues fiduciaries frequently must resolve

Trusts and Estate Administration

Taxes: Calculate estate, gift, generation-skipping and fiduciary income taxes and prepare/review tax returns 
Trust funding: Advise on the implementation of complex funding formulas 
Probate: Advise on matters involving the formal and informal probate of wills, the rendering of accounts and virtual representation issues 
Judicial approval: Prepare and obtain judicial approval of accounts 
Interpretation: Advise on interpretation issues, including the meaning of specific terms and construction of trust instruments; when necessary, file court actions to reform, divide or terminate trusts and clarify trust terms 
Uniform Acts: Advise on the provisions of various Uniform Act statutes affecting estate and trust administration