Wise Counsel's Hartley Goldstone and I had a wonderful experience this week teaching the first course on Family Trusts at Vanderbilt University. Along with guest speakers John A Warnick of the Purposeful Planning Institute and Steve Weinstein of Altair Advisors, we covered introductions to the "players" in the "trustscape," choices about trusts, adding purpose to trusts, and a new model for organizing the trustscape. The overall lesson was that, despite trust's sometimes feeling disempowering, those of us who form the trust relationships are the trust, and the success (or failure) of the trust will depend on the quality of those relationships. For a copy of the agenda, click here.
Wise Counsel's Hartley Goldstone has posted a new article at Trusts & Estates, arguing that the most effective form of trust risk management could be, of all things ... communication. If it seems an odd idea, that's only because so many trustees forget that a trust is not a portfolio or a database of transactions or even a document but rather a relationship between human beings. Just as doctors have learned that asking a few questions and showing some interest in patients can reduce malpractice suits, trustees may learn, with Hartley's guidance, that the best defence against potential trust litigation may be a good conversation.