How Does Sandy Spring Trust Assist Clients with Their Estate and Financial Plans?

Philip Fish, CFP<sup>®</sup> and Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust


Philip Fish, CFP® and Estate Planning Specialist with Sandy Spring Trust discusses the three main ways Sandy Spring Trust assists our clients: The professional management of investments under Federal Fiduciary standards, being named within legal documents as a Trustee and Personal Representative and being positioned to provide support to professionals, family and friends named as Fiduciaries.  Within the discussion Phil talks about creating, updating and reviewing legal documents, preparing future decision makers for their role, the proper titling of assets, managing assets under Fiduciary standards, handling incapacity, settling estates and the management of trusts established for protecting family members.

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    Sandy Spring Trust Assist Clients With Their Estate And Financial Plans


    - Hello, everyone and welcome to Sandy Spring Banks "Real Life Matters Seminar" series. My name is Phil Fish, I'm a certified financial planner and an estate planning specialist with the trust division of Sandy Spring Bank. For the past 21 years, I've worked for the bank being a problem solver, answering questions, helping navigate clients through different life stages. And I'm the host of the Seminar Library, which is a number of different seminar topics that you'll find on the Sandy Spring Bank website. And I also host the "Professional Discussion" series, where I interview local professionals in the areas of law, tax, finance and healthcare on a number of different topics. And you'll find that also on our main website. So thank you for joining us today. This is kind of a one-way conversation. It's a way for me to share information about our services and how we help clients. So I hope you can relax at your home or office and hopefully have a pad of paper, a pen or pencil, take notes. At the end of today's session, you'll see my contact information and my email. And if you would like to speak to me and have some questions answered, feel free to reach out to me. The way we run these programs is that you will initiate contact with me as a follow up. And depending on where you live geographically, either I'll continue on with those conversations. I may introduce you to one of my colleagues who cover different areas within our footprint. If you bank with Sandy Spring Bank, thank you for banking with us. We were founded over 150 years ago, a few miles up the road in Sandy Spring. I'm speaking to you today from our main offices in Olney. Upstairs we have our boardroom and our executive offices. And next door we have a building where our trust division, many of our employees are located including myself, my office is next door. So I look forward to sharing some information with you today. Today's topic is a little different. On the library, you'll find discussions on revocable trusts and wills and protective trust and incapacity planning, taxes, investments. But many times I'm asked by clients, how does Sandy Spring Trust help clients? And so today's discussion is just gonna be focused around that. An outline is provided on the website that will give you kind of 10 items. I'm gonna guide you through those 10 items today with a focus around what does the bank do during those different areas? How do we help? And after that discussion, if you'd like to learn more about how we assist clients with financial and estate planning issues, then just give me a call or send me an email. And can either do a phone or video conference. And down the line as things improve, we may even be able to meet in person. So I hope you are safe. I know the past year or two have been very difficult for all of us and we continue to face challenges. All I can state is Sandy Spring Bank has stood by the sides of our clients for 150 years and we continue to do so, guiding clients, trying to give them good advice and help them solve problems. So how does Sandy Spring Trust work? Well, we are the trust division of Sandy Spring Bank. We were founded over 30 years ago. Have a staff of close to 50 professionals, portfolio managers and trust officers and certified financial planners like myself. I've been a CFP now for 21 years. And our staff are all salaried and we're governed under the federal fiduciary standards. It means we have to do what's in the client's best interest at all times. And on the investment side, which we'll talk about today you'll find out that we have no products, no commissions, no in-house investments that we push. It is the clean, healthy style of investing that we feel everyone should be exposed to. And it's an honor and a privilege to work for this trust division. And as I've said, I've been here for the past 21 years and I've seen us grow from a smaller trust division to one of the largest, most well-established trust divisions based in this area. And we look forward to continuing to do that going forward. So item one on the agenda is estate planning documents. And that's a good place to start. Many clients will come to us and say, I need a will, I need a trust, can you help? We can help indirectly. Many of our staff members are estate planning attorneys, but when they joined Sandy Spring Banks Trust division, they have to kind of put that drafting pen to one side. We can not be your lawyer for lots of different reasons. One is that we're named in many documents as a personal representative or as a trustee. So to have an employee of the bank meet with you and draft documents that name the bank in those documents just doesn't work well. So we're going to work with your attorney and we're gonna coordinate your estate planning documents with he or she. And if you don't have anyone, we know many of the local attorneys and we can give you names of local estate planning attorneys that we work with. On the drafting of documents, we strongly recommend that you work with a local estate planning attorney who specializes in that area and who does that work in the state where you live in. Because in Maryland, D.C., Virginia and other states there are slight nuances in estate planning, it is gonna be different based on where you live. So when I talk to clients, one of the first things we wanna talk about is what estate planning documents do you have? Some of the clients I meet with don't have any. So we work on establishing wills, maybe trust, financial powers of attorney, medical advanced directives. Maybe trust to protect a family member after they pass away. And then we would coordinate with those clients attorneys and to try and make sure that the documents either are established in the right way, maybe updated because they're old or maybe just reviewed. We have clients come to us who say I have these documents and they're very confusing and I just like some help kinda figuring out how they work. So on the estate planning side, we wanna make sure that our clients have good, strong, well-established estate planning documents that will do a couple of things. And I talk about this in other sessions in more detail. But your estate planning documents are designed to do the following, take care of you in case of a period of poor health and handle your financial affairs during a poor health. So during those times, your trusts, your medical advanced directives, your financial powers of attorney are gonna name decision-makers, people that you trust to step in and take care of your financial and/or medical affairs if you're not able to handle them yourself. Upon your death, your will or your revocable living trust will step in and start to disperse assets to family members, charities, friends, and that's all part of your estate plan. So in simple terms, it's taking care of you when you become sick and dispersing your assets in the way that you would like them to be dispersed. But also, try to minimize any tax consequences along the way. So there's a lot of different moving parts to an estate plan. So at Sandy Spring Trust, we're not gonna draft the documents, we're not gonna actually update them. But we will certainly work with clients who are clients of the trust division and help them through the estate planning process. Item two on the checklist is selection of the decision-makers. Trustees within trusts, personal representatives within wills, agents within financial and medical powers of attorney. I call them decision makers, people you select to make decisions on your behalf when you're not able to do so because you've either become sick or unfortunately you've passed away. Sandy Spring Bank can be named as a trustee. We can also be named as a personal representative in your wills. We're not able to be named within the financial or medical powers of attorney. The documents just aren't really set up for a corporate decision-maker. But we can certainly provide support to family members or friends who are named. We also work with some professionals who are willing to be named in those complimentary roles. If a client wants the bank to help them during a pit of poor health, we're going to use a revocable living trust. And the bank will be the trustee and the bank would be paying bills, managing financial affairs, coordinating. And we talk about that in other seminars. And I can certainly talk about that when we speak one-on-one. The selection of the decision makers is a very important decision. So many times I will have conversations with clients, we talk about spouses, partners, significant others, brothers, sisters. Though we have to keep an eye on timelines because as you get older, those individuals may be getting older. So we might need backups, children, sons, daughters, maybe even grandchildren, nephews, nieces, cousins, friends. And we talk about what's involved in these decision-making roles and the burden and the stress that can come with those assignments. And how Sandy Spring Trust can be positioned either to be a decision maker within your documents, to be a backup to a family member or friend that you've named. And/or be a support system to either the spouse, the significant other, the partner, the brother, the sister, the son, the daughter and help ease the burden on their shoulders and help them in their role that you've asked them to serve in. So we can certainly help in the discussions of selection of decision makers. And the bank is many times named in some role in the future. Preparation of the decision-makers is number three. We spend a lot of time talking to clients and getting ready for that transition, the change in health, the loss of a loved one. If the bank's named, then Sandy Spring Trust and the trust officer assigned is spending time with the family, getting to know your affairs, your real estate holdings, maybe business interests, where your assets are located. Some will be managed here at Sandy Spring Bank Trust division, some will be managed elsewhere. But we need to know where things are located, where are the original legal documents maintained? How are we gonna access them all? How is your decision maker gonna access them? Who's your lawyer? Who's your accountant? Where do you do your banking? Or who's your insurance through? What kind of insurance do you have? And where are the policies kept? Access to information is gonna be critical. When you can no longer take care of your own affairs, somebody, either the bank or someone you've selected is gonna have to step in. How prepared they are is gonna make a huge difference in how smoothly that transition occurs during a very difficult time. So the preparation of the decision-maker is a very important role that we play in at Sandy Spring Trust. Titling of assets, number four. This is probably the most common mistake we see in financial and estate planning, is a misalignment between a client's estate plans and their intentions and how they've titled their assets, joint ownership, beneficiary designations, assets titled inside of a trust. We work very closely with our clients to make sure that their assets are titled in a way that compliments their wishes and their intent and their estate plans. And that is a very important role that we serve in and it's one that happens over time. Because over time, clients assets change and your accounts change and you may move money around. And this creates opportunities and risks that may be things get out of alignment. And sometimes I meet with a client who has a revocable living trust. And early on, they had everything titled in the trust properly. And over time, it's just gotten a little scraggly around the edges. And that's so important because when a client gets sick or die, whatever is in place is gonna kinda get locked into place. And we want to make sure that the client's estate plans and the documents and the account titling and their wishes and their intent are all aligned. So at the end of the day, what they want to have occur, does occur. Many times that does not happen. And unfortunately, many times assets are dispersed in a way that the client did not intend because the documents and/or the account titling was not set up properly. I've mentioned a couple of times how we get engaged, how clients become members of Sandy Spring Trust. We don't charge billable hours, what we do is we manage assets under the federal fiduciary standards. We have a team of portfolio managers. They're not brokers, they're not commission, they're not account representatives, they are portfolio managers. And we assign a portfolio manager to all of our client's accounts, generally over account sizes of around half a million dollars. We can handle investment management services on smaller accounts. We generally are not assigning as many individuals to those smaller accounts, but we can still manage those assets under federal fiduciary standards and very well. But most of our clients want a relationship, they wanna interact with people who can guide them and help. And so that's done through an investment management relationship, maybe an old 401k plan is rolled over. IRA accounts can be transferred to an IRA here at Sandy Spring Trust. Investment accounts, cash that is just sitting and not working as hard as the client would like them to be. So when I meet with clients, many times we will discuss what they're trying to accomplish. And if they are interested in establishing a proactive relationship with Sandy Spring Trust, then we look at their accounts and their investment locations. And we talk about whether a relationship with Sandy Spring Trust would make sense. We charge annual fees for managing assets. Those annual fees go to the bank. And the bank pays the salaries of all of the staff within the trust division and all of the operation expenses. Things like commissions, transaction costs are all included in the annual fee. Annual fees will range. And so if you have questions about our services, I or one of my colleagues can certainly talk in more detail about what fees we charge. Which is gonna change based on the size or the relationship and the type of services that we're offering. On the fiduciary side, even though we're a trust division and many clients do come to us for the estate planning piece, to be named in a document, to be named as a backup, to provide support, we also get hired a lot just to manage assets. And the reason is, we're under the strictest federal fiduciary standards, no commissions, no products, no sales pressure, no conflicts of interest. Just salaried officers of the bank, giving good advice to help clients navigate. We use top rated, no load mutual funds in places like T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Fidelity and other locations. But we have no relationships with any fund families. So we're not leaning a client towards one location. We also don't have any Sandy Spring Bank investments. So we're not leaning clients towards in-house options, sometimes called proprietary investments. We can use individual bonds, individual stocks, low-cost exchange traded funds, no load funds. And our portfolio managers will work with a client and we can transfer assets in kind many times, work around tax issues, work around special preferences. Some of our clients may say they don't wish to invest in tobacco stocks, which is fine we can accomplish that. And that said, I don't think we do much of that anyway. But we can accommodate our client's wishes. We establish what's called an investment policy statement, which is done through a conversation with the client and myself and the portfolio manager. We talk about goals, objectives, tax situations, income needs, time horizons. And then the assets that are transferred to us are professionally managed within federal fiduciary standards within the parameters that the client has agreed to. And the client has direct contact with the portfolio managers. So if they see something happening or if they have a question, they can simply reach out through phone or email and speak to the actual person who's making those decisions. Our portfolio managers work as a team and the decisions are made through that incredible knowledge base that we have in our portfolio management group. But we do assign an individual portfolio manager to each client, because each client is unique. And each client is gonna have special scenarios that need to be worked around, special tax situations, special personal preferences, different goals and objectives. And so we offer a personalized investment strategy for our clients under those federal fiduciary standards that many investment firms do not fall under. And that's why we've been really busy as clients have come to us to help them with their estate planning and also the financial planning needs. Preparation and support of the decision-maker. So as we work with clients, we actually get to meet with the people they've named in their documents. Maybe a daughter named in their medical powers of attorney or maybe the daughter's named in the financial role. Partners, spouses who may not be as involved in the investment decisions. Sometimes one of the individuals in a couple is a little more involved than others. So we're positioned to provide support to the individual that may not be as comfortable handling finances as the other, just in case the one that's handling finances become sick or passes away first. Which can really cause a disruption and a very stressful time for the surviving spouse, partner or significant other. We meet the children, the sons, the daughters, nephews, nieces, friends sometimes who are named. And then we talk about the support they're going to need and the support they will receive. Having a team of professionals here at Sandy Spring Trust who are not under billable hours, who are salaried officers. So family members who are named in documents can call us with questions, come in and meet with us. We can coordinate with the attorney and the accountant, care managers on the medical side and really help navigate the client and the family through difficult times. The challenges of retirement. The challenges of a period of incapacity and poor health. The loss of a loved one. The establishment of trust for the benefit of loved ones, which I'll talk at the end of today's discussion about in a little more detail. Sandy Spring Trust provides an amazing support system to family members and friends who are named within your documents. And we can greatly reduce the burden and stress that are on their shoulders. It's one of the primary reasons we are retained by clients. Incapacity. It's the hardest issue we deal with, the declining health of a loved one, the loss of mental clarity. And during that time, it is so challenging. But we are so well positioned to help families through that, especially if we've been working with the family while they've been healthy and planning and preparing for this difficult time. Making sure the documents are up to date. Making sure the powers of attorney are on file with the financial locations where they need to be. Making sure beneficiary designations are correct. Because once the client's health declines, they may not be able to update documents or update account titling or update beneficiary designations. So we wanna try and make sure everything is as ready as we can be for that difficult time. And then make sure the client's safe, work with the medical agents, the family, maybe care managers if they're brought in. Have discussions about either staying at home and then making sure the home is a safe place to stay in so the client can remain independent as long as possible. Maybe making some adjustments to the house to accommodate that. Or talking about maybe changing location, moving to an assisted living facility or retirement location, downsizing. These are difficult decisions for clients to make and we can be there to help along the way. For every client that we bring in, we assign a private banker who are very knowledgeable about banking and lending solutions. And so they're a wonderful resource added to the team as well. Because many times the client may need to refinance a mortgage or need to acquire a mortgage for a new property. Or need help with banking and lending issues, either for themselves or family members. And the private banker assigned is there to answer those questions and coordinate with our local bank staff. We really can provide a turnkey solution to help clients with their estate and financial planning issues. Working with their attorney, their accountant, other professionals, family members. And we become kind of that central hub, where clients can know that their wishes are gonna be honored and they're gonna be taken care of and their assets are gonna be protected when the time comes. Loss of a loved one, estate settlement. The bank is many times hired to either be the personal representative in a will, be the trustee upon death within a trust or provide support and help to an individual who's named in those challenging roles. We settle estates and we do it very well. And our staff are very highly qualified and can guide the family through the difficult process of what needs to be done. And then finally, the last area where we help clients in is trusts for family members. When I was a trust officer at the Lodge Bank before I joined Sandy Spring Bank in 2000, I handled most of the trusts for individuals with special needs. It was a very rewarding time for me as a lot of these trusts were established for individuals who are either physically or mentally disabled and they needed support and help. And I was coordinating with family members, we we're making sure that the funds were available, but also that the funds did not affect the benefits that were available for the individual. We deal with trust for young beneficiaries, for individuals who might struggle with financial affairs, individuals with physical or mental disabilities, individuals who may have an addiction, alcohol, drugs, gambling. Or other concerns where the receipt of a large inheritance in one lump sum might be very risky and the funds may not be protected and may just be lost in a very short period of time. Sandy Spring Trust can be named as a trustee for these trusts. Or we can be named to support family members. We can be hired to provide support to individuals who are named, maybe be a backup so as they get older as the trustee they can hand the reins over to us. So as you can see, Sandy Spring Trust has a lot of work. We professionally manage assets under federal fiduciary standards. We tailor portfolios to meet the needs of clients and then we work with them through changing times, different interest rates, different markets. And we've been doing it for many years. All of our staff are salaried officers of Sandy Spring Bank. A local independent bank that's been a part of this community for over 150 years. If we can answer any questions for you, please reach out to me and we can schedule a time to talk. As I mentioned, if you're located in an area that I don't cover, I will then introduce you to one of my colleagues who do the same work as I do, just covering different parts of our community. There is no cost or obligation to speak to us. We might not be the right fit, but maybe we can answer some questions and help guide you and maybe point you in the right direction. But maybe we can be retained by you to help. Either manage some assets for you under fiduciary standards, be named in a future role within your legal documents or provide support to family members or friends who you've named to take care of your affairs later on in life. No matter how we can help, I look forward speaking to you. Thank you for joining us today for our discussion. And I hope you're safe during these difficult times. And if you bank with us, thank you. And if you don't bank with us, I hope you might consider Sandy Spring Bank to be your partner for whatever financial needs you might have. On behalf of the bank, thank you for joining us today. I hope you're safe and have a wonderful day.

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    This material is provided solely for educational purposes by Sandy Spring Trust, a division of Sandy Spring Bank, and is not intended to constitute tax, legal or accounting advice, or a recommendation for any investment strategy or transaction. You should consult your own tax, legal, accounting or financial advisors regarding your specific situation and needs. Our staff will work closely with your advisors to coordinate your overall plan. 

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