Sunstone Trust Services FAQs.
To best answer the questions below, we welcome the opportunity to explain the nuances of the different trustee roles to meet your family’s unique needs, to discuss our trust administration procedures, and to tell you why our trust services are especially valuable for families who are first and second generation immigrants to America.
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal agreement that names a person or entity to hold property for the benefit of others. The agreement is between three parties:
- The person who creates the trust is called the “settlor” or “trustor” or “grantor”. The settlor also normally provides (“grants”) the assets to be held in trust.
- The person or entity holding and managing the property is the “trustee”.
- The people for whom the assets are managed are the “beneficiaries”.
A settlor creates a trust and transfers the property to the trustee with instructions (found in the trust document) to manage and distribute the property to the beneficiaries. The settlor, trustee and beneficiary can all be the same person(s) initially.
What is Sunstone Trust Company’s role?
Sunstone Trust Company acts as a fiduciary with respect to your assets. This means that Sunstone can act as trustee of your trust to hold, manage and account for your wealth in your best interest. Sunstone Trust Company can be trustee during your life, should you become incapacitated or after death.
What services does Sunstone Trust Company provide?
As a licensed trust company, we are authorized to provide a wide range of services to you, including:
- Acting as your fiduciary to oversee and manage your real estate holdings.
- Overseeing your securities portfolio (stocks, bonds, mutual funds).
- Acting as trustee for closely held businesses.
- Investing and reinvesting the trust property and exercise discretionary powers over both income and principal for your trust.
- Acting as intermediary between legal counselors, tax advisors, bookkeepers, and accountants for all your ongoing trust estate needs.
Is Sunstone Trust Company licensed?
Yes! Sunstone Trust Company is fully licensed and authorized to provide trust services by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
And, as a California licensee, Sunstone Trust Company is among a select few independent trust companies held to the very high standard of California’s rigorous regulatory structure. This also means that Sunstone Trust Company must comply with certain strict capital requirements. Sunstone Trust Company is subject to audit of its practices and financial conditions by the state.
Sunstone Trust Company is also a member of the Association of Trust Organizations (ATO), the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Irvine Chamber. Our Board of Directors and management are all experienced professionals and have been approved to serve in their roles by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
I have an investment adviser. Do I need a trust company?
Yes. You can (and frequently should) keep your existing trusted investment advisor. While a trustee and an investment adviser both manage assets, a trustee such as Sunstone Trust Company can provide additional essential services that most investment advisors cannot such as:
- Serving as trustee of your family trust
- Acting as executor or settle your family’s estate
- Holding custody of your assets
- Allowing you to invest your IRA into non-traditional assets
- Helping you manage non-traditional assets such as real estate, closely-held businesses, and cryptocurrency
Sunstone Trust Company is happy to work with your existing investment adviser who can continue to manage your traditional securities portfolio while Sunstone Trust Company provides custody of assets and accounts for the rest of your estate including your real estate, business interests and bank accounts.
Why would I establish a trust? How does it protect my wealth?
There are many strong reasons why almost all high-net-worth families in the United States establish a trust for their family and assets:
- Asset protection – A properly-created trust can provide protection from both creditors and lawsuits.
- Protection of family
– A trust can reflect your goals and desires for your family and how your assets should be used during and after your lifetime.
– A trust can better protect your family upon your death or incapacitation.
– A trust is a much better way to protect family than a will.
- Minimize or defer payment of taxes – Putting your assets into a trust can save significant taxes or defer their payment.
- Avoid probate litigation – Even if you create a will, the will usually has to be litigated in probate court. This can be public and unpleasant for your family.
- Privacy – A trust can hold real estate and other assets and provide you with privacy. It avoids the publicity and embarrassment of probate litigation.
- Legacy – A trust allows you to share assets with future generations in a way that enhances family harmony, stability and continuity over decades and generations.
We at Sunstone Trust Company work closely with you and your legal advisors to ensure that you have a trust that is exactly suited to your and your family’s particular needs. You have worked too hard to let your family’s fate be decided by probate court litigation.
Why would you hire a professional trustee instead of doing it yourself?
For several good reasons, many families use a professional trust company to be their trustee instead of trying to act as their own trustee:
- For the non-professionals, acting as trustee can be a burden. For the non-professional, trying to act as trustee can be a burden on their time and peace of mind. A family member may have to deal with challenging family dynamics, and they may have their own self-interests to manage. All of this can be stressful.
- A professional is best to handle the complexity of modern trusts
– The complexity of modern high net worth family trusts is no problem for a professional trustee. It is what they have done for their entire careers, and they are masters of their craft.
– However, for the non-professional, it can be very time-consuming to administer a trust and it is easy for the non-professional to make a mistake.
- Trust and tax laws are complex and change often
– A professional trustee stays current with all changes in trust and tax law.
– Most laypeople have neither the time or training to stay informed and respond appropriately to changes.
– We can work with you and your legal and tax advisors to implement changes to your trust as appropriate.
– It can be difficult for a family member to remain objective and act fairly in accord with trust documents when dealing with beloved family members.
– A professional trustee can be trusted to remain objective and professional in the midst of challenging and emotional family situations.
- Continuity– A trust company will be around for generations and a professional team will ensure continuity across the years even when family members become ill or pass away.
What if you only want us to be a co-trustee?
It is perfectly acceptable if you want to designate Sunstone Trust Company as a co-trustee. Depending on how you want to administer your trust, you may want to delegate some responsibilities to us and keep some trustee responsibilities and control for yourself. We are flexible and work with many clients as a co-trustee.
What if you only want us to serve as a successor trustee?
It is also appropriate if you only want to designate Sunstone Trust Company as a successor trustee to assume responsibility upon the death of the original trustee. We are flexible and are designated as a successor trustee by many clients.
What if you want us to serve as an executor?
An executor is someone who carries out the wishes of the trust or estate upon death. The more affluent your family, the more important the role of the executor becomes. Sunstone Trust Company has deep experience in the multifaceted role of executor services.
Executor services include collecting money owed to the estate, coordinating with family members, marshalling estate assets, notifying creditors and paying valid debts, managing the estate’s assets, making distributions to beneficiaries, filing the decedent’s final income tax return (if requested), choosing a tax year for the estate, completing and filing the federal tax return, submitting a detailed accounting to beneficiaries and / or the probate court, and coordinating with other members of the advisory team.
Many clients designate Sunstone Trust Company both as trustee and as executor. We can accept either or both designations.
Can Sunstone Trust Company assist you in your philanthropy?
Yes! Many of our clients rely on us to ensure that gifts are made to the right causes and charities. Your trust can designate as many beneficiaries and charities as you wish. Trust and tax laws give you considerable flexibility in your philanthropic goals.
What if you want us to act as your agent instead of a trustee?
We are happy to act as your agent in those cases where an agency relationship best meets your goals instead of a trustee or executor role.
When we act as your agent, our responsibilities can include supervising your investments, guiding your real estate holdings, or communicating important updates to your family members. Of course, these roles are carried out with an eye on continually monitoring your assets and interests according to your family’s goals.
How much do Sunstone Trust Company’s services cost?
Please see our Fee Schedule and Services page for the costs of our various services. We are competitive in our pricing, and we work hard every day to demonstrate the value we bring to your family. We are able in some cases to negotiate custom fee arrangements based on your particular facts and circumstances and we are happy to talk to you about that.