What is a trust company?
A trust company is one that administers the financial dealings for another entity, such as an individual or a corporation. In the vast majority of cases a trust company is a bank, though quite a few law firms also act as trust companies. These companies provide a number of fiduciary responsibilities. A trust company handles most of these tasks through the services of a trustee. This trustee can oversee a number of important functions and handle a wide range of financial situations. Those include everything from the mundane, such as paying bills, to handling multi-million dollar investment decisions. For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when they think of a trust company is the administration of an estate, especially as the executor of a will. A trust company is especially useful in this regard simply because it takes the task away from a family member who has enough to consider during such a difficult time. A trust company also handles the financial assets of an irrevoca
Simply put, a trust company is a corporation authorized to act as trustee or in other fiduciary capacities. It is somewhat of a historical accident that corporate trustees are regulated as banking institutions, but a trust company does not necessarily have to be a “bank” in the normal sense of the term. This Client Alert focuses on stand-alone trust companies that do not take deposits or make loans and which may or may not be affiliated with a bank. (Many banks, of course, exercise trust powers directly through trust departments.) Three alternative forms of trust company charters currently are used: • State-Chartered Trust Company. The laws of approximately 40 states, including California, allow the establishment of a stand-alone trust company that does not take deposits or make loans and is not affiliated with a bank. (See Footnote 1.) The California Department of Financial Institutions (“DFI”) licenses trust companies in California. • National Trust Company. The Office of the Comptro
The primary function of a trust company is to act as a trustee, fiduciary or agent for individuals or firms in a variety of capacities, such as administering trust funds (including their investment), executing wills, acting as custodian for property held in trust, etc. Trust companies designated resident can only deal with residents, and those designated non-resident deal only with non-resident clients. These licensees cannot accept deposits from clients, but they can hold monies in trust for clients to enable settlement of local expenses and fees.
By definition, a trust company is a separate corporate entity owned by a bank or other financial institution, law firm or independent partnership. Its function is to manage trusts, trust funds and estates for individuals, businesses and other entities. Trust companies get their title from the fact that they act as trustees for their clients in a fiduciary capacity. The majority of a trust company’s assets are held in actual trusts, with the trust company named as the trustee. Trust companies generally employ several types of financial professionals, including financial planners, attorneys, portfolio managers, CPAs and other tax professionals, trust officers, real estate experts and administrative personnel. (For related reading, see Find The Right Financial Advisor.