U.S. Trust Introduces Family Wealth Services: Wealth Planning for the Modern American Family

January 15, 2013 – U.S. Trust today introduced Family Wealth Services, a comprehensive approach to meeting the specialized needs of high net worth families and the increasingly complex issues that parents, children and extended family members now face. Family Wealth Services aggregates a wide range of investment, banking, wealth transfer and legacy planning capabilities within U.S. Trust and provides customized strategies that incorporate generational differences, family diversity, emerging risks to financial security and overall family goals and values.

“Today’s families are complex with emotional, lifestyle and financial issues that are often closely intertwined,” said Keith Banks, president of U.S. Trust. “We recognize that the individual financial and planning goals of our clients are part of a bigger, multi-dimensional family dynamic. Family Wealth Services is a reflection of the increased interest we’re seeing by clients taking control of their individual financial security with a more disciplined, proactive, longer-term view of family relationships and responsibilities.”

The oldest trust company in the United States and advisor to generations of wealthy American families for over 200 years, U.S. Trust developed Family Wealth Services in response to the growing need for comprehensive, multi-generational wealth planning. Customized services, tools and solutions within Family Wealth Services are designed to help U.S. Trust clients address a range of needs, including:

  • Providing financial education to children and managing wealth across multiple generations.
  • Addressing the specialized needs of elderly family members.
  • Developing customized wealth plans that address the distinct needs of women – single, married, widowed and divorced.
  • Planning for the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered domestic partners.
  • Creating a multi-generational legacy.
  • Supporting philanthropic interests.
  • Providing administrative support for family members and other individuals serving as a trustee or executor.

“The family is the biggest and most rewarding investment most people make in their lives,” said Chris Heilmann, U.S. Trust’s chief fiduciary executive. “That’s why we think it’s important to help people build and protect the family as an asset as they build and protect their wealth.”

Next generation financial education

The 2012 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth Survey1 found that six in 10 (61 percent) wealthy parents are not fully confident their children will be well-prepared to handle any financial inheritance left to them. Thirty-seven percent of parents strongly agree their children would benefit from discussions with a financial professional. The lack of discussion may be a reflection of the concerns many parents have talking about wealthwith anyone, including their children. Just over one-third (37 percent) of wealthy parents have fully disclosed their wealth to children, while half (51 percent) have disclosed only a little about their financial status, according to the survey.

Helping children to become financially literate is a particular concern of wealthy families because of the complexities and demands of managing substantial assets. U.S. Trust’s Financial Empowerment program was created specifically to help young adults in their 20s and 30s make informed financial decisions – whether they are starting a career or already have their own families. The program provides knowledge and tools on a wide range of financial topics to help build the foundation on which participants can manage their financial future.

Elder care planning

The survey found that many families do not have a plan in place for the care of parents or other aging relatives, or a financial plan for their own long-term needs if they should need it. Planning for the challenges associated with aging can be quite complex, requiring an understanding of diverse options for living arrangements, healthcare, financial planning and estate planning. Through in-house and external expert resources, U.S. Trust offers elder care planning services to help clients evaluate options, both to meet the current requirements of elderly relatives and to plan for their own eventual needs.

U.S. Trust’s ElderCare Planning includes:

  • Organizational services and tools to help families gather critical financial, legal and medical information so that the data is readily available when needed. U.S. Trust has developed a comprehensive elder care checklist and personal inventory workbook to help clients and their family members organize vital information and documents, including paper files, electronic records and digital passwords.
  • Facilitating healthcare management and coordination of service providers and support to individuals and family members anywhere in the country through a strategic alliance with a nationwide referral network of external providers and professionals.
  • Financial planning focused on creating solutions to issues related to maintaining financial independence while addressing the costs associated with health and mobility; retirement asset planning; nursing homes, assisted living and home care; and overall financial well-being.
  • Core estate planning services for clients who are in later life, or preparing for it, to help ensure that the estate plan they have put in place will meet their changing needs and priorities – and those of their family and beneficiaries. Health care proxies and living wills are a particular focus of the estate planning services in our eldercare program. While these documents are not related to one’s financial wealth plans, having them in place can be essential to help ensure that the care provided better reflects an individual’s wishes.

Wealth planning for women

The realities of women’s lives can create unique planning complexities. They acquire their wealth in different ways: many build wealth themselves; others inherit it from a spouse or parent; still others receive it in a divorce settlement. In addition, “blended” families are more common, and women live longer, are more likely to be primary care givers and are often more active in philanthropy – these factors all magnify the need to have a plan. Our experienced specialists can help address these issues, working with women to design a plan specifically to address their needs and concerns. Among the challenges U.S. Trust can help address are life transitions such as a divorce or death of a spouse, retirement, care-giving for aging relatives, philanthropic planning and business ownership succession planning.

Wealth planning for LGBT domestic partners

Domestic partners do not typically enjoy the same automatic legal rights and benefits as opposite-sex married couples. Developing and implementing a sound strategy that considers the evolution in federal, state and local laws will help them pursue critical wealth management and legacy goals. U.S. Trust can work to build a wealth plan that addresses a wide range of issues and concerns that include estate and gift tax planning, homestead rights, guardianship rights, and asset succession.

Services for individual trustees

Many people appoint a family member or a long-time advisor as trustee of their trust because they know the person understands their goals and, in many cases, knows the heirs. Serving as trustee, however, means assuming a great deal of responsibility, exposure to potential financial liability if mistakes are made, and performing a variety of tasks that require wide-ranging skills. By acting as the agent for a trustee, U.S. Trust can ease the administrative workload of the person appointed, freeing him or her to focus on honoring the wishes their loved one expressed when he or she established the trust. These capabilities as agent for trustee might include investment management, principal and income accounting, preparation of required reports, managing distributions and taxes. U.S. Trust can also serve as an agent for individuals serving as executors and personal representatives to oversee the complexities involved in settling estates.

Estate settlement

Settling an estate is a complex and highly technical responsibility requiring a substantial commitment of time and a range of skills for which few individuals are prepared. The role frequently requires decisions that must be balanced between competing or conflicting interests. As such, directly appointing U.S. Trust to serve as executor or personal representative affords families the skills and resources of experienced specialists to handle all aspects of a comprehensive estate settlement process.


The survey found that creating or passing on a tradition of philanthropic giving to the next generation is seen as a responsibility within wealthy families. The wealthy view philanthropy as more than giving money. It is about fulfilling goals of great personal importance, acting on deeply held values and creating family legacies and connections that cross generations. U.S. Trust works with families to identify common goals, develop mission statements and create philanthropic strategies that are rewarding and reflect the interests of individual family members.

1 2012 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth Survey™ Methodology

U.S. Trust 2012 Insights on Wealth and Worth is based on a nationwide survey of 642 high net worth and ultra high net worth adults with at least $3 million in investable assets, not including the value of their primary residence. Among respondents, 37 percent have between $3 million and $5 million in investable assets, 31 percent have between $5 million and $10 million and 32 percent have $10 million or more. The survey was conducted online by the independent research firm Phoenix Marketing International in March of 2012. Asset information was self-reported by the respondent. Verification for respondent qualification occurred at the panel company, using algorithms in place to ensure consistency of information provided, and was confirmed with questions from the survey itself. All data have been tested for statistical significance at the 95 percent confidence level.

U.S. Trust

U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management is a leading private wealth management organization providing vast resources and customized solutions to help meet clients' wealth structuring, investment management, banking and credit needs. Clients are served by teams of experienced advisors offering a range of financial services, including investment management, financial and succession planning, philanthropic and specialty asset management, family office services, custom credit solutions, financial administration and family trust stewardship.

U.S. Trust is part of the Global Wealth and Investment Management unit of Bank of America, N.A., which is a global leader in wealth management, private banking and retail brokerage. U.S. Trust employs more than 4,000 professionals and maintains 140 offices in 32 states.

As part of Bank of America, U.S. Trust can provide access to a broad range of banking solutions for individuals and businesses, and an extensive retail banking platform.

Bank of America

Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving more than 55 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,500 retail banking offices and approximately 16,300 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to more than 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

SOURCE: Bank of America