Who are the people and organizations you care about most? Who do you trust? The process you go through to answer these tough questions can be life-affirming and empowering, says Jeanne Goussev, LNWM’s Managing Director of Fiduciary Services. We sat down with Jeanne to talk about her work and why her intentional approach to planning is a perfect match for LNWM’s clients, culture and operations.
Jeanne, what do you mean by “intentional?”
Jeanne: By intentional I mean probing deeper into what you value so that your life can fully reflect who you are and what you want to accomplish. I think most of us know what we value in life. Often, it is our spouse, our children, the organizations and communities. Most of us don’t ask these very important questions: Who are the people we trust? What are our legacies after we’re gone? What do I want for my spouse or partner, for our children?
How do you spend most of your time?
Jeanne: A large part of my work involves getting to know my clients and their families – their needs, concerns and aspirations. The other big part of my job is developing estate plans and helping to set up trusts.
Why do people set up trusts?
Jeanne: Trusts allow you to be intentional about what you want to accomplish with your wealth in a very private way. They can be used to do a variety of specific things, such as: funding education for your children or grandchildren; providing for your spouse; making sure a child with special needs is taken care of; paying for estate taxes or helping lower them; supporting your favorite charities.
What’s the difference between a trust and a will?
Jeanne: A will becomes a public document upon death, because it’s filed with the Court; anyone can then access a will through the electronic court-records system. Everything in a trust, by contrast, remains private. It does not go through probate and is not considered part of your estate.
Why do trusts seem so mysterious and overwhelming?
Jeanne: I think that’s due to a lot of misconceptions. Many people believe that you have to relinquish control when you put assets in a trust. Or, that trusts are only for the super wealthy. But those things aren’t necessarily true. Trusts can be as nimble and as flexible — or as rigid — as you want them to be. If you want to keep control of your assets, you set up a “revocable” trust that you can change or cancel any time. Don’t want to commit to a trust right away? You can set up a trust that gets activated after your death.
When’s the best time to set up a trust?
Jeanne: Actually, there’s no “best” time. It depends on your situation and what you want to accomplish with your wealth over your lifetime and beyond.
What kind of assets can you transfer to a trust?
Jeanne: Virtually any asset — stocks and bonds, real estate, an art collection, a business — can be transferred to a trust.
To find out more, read the full Q&A with Jeanne Goussev.