Harvey Clark introduced our guest speaker, Remy Carpenter, vice president and director of trust and estate services with BMO Harris Bank. Remy has her BS, cum laude, in justice studies from ASU, and her JD from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU. She has her Master of Law & Letters in taxation from the School of Law at the University of Washington in Seattle. Remy is a member of the State Bar of AZ, including the Tax Section and Probate and Trust Section. In 2014, she was named as a Southwest Super Lawyers Rising Star in Tax by Southwest Super Lawyers Magazine. She has been elected to the board of Central Arizona Estate Planning Council and is Committee Chair-elect for the Emerging Professionals Group. Remy is also a member of the Arizona Community Foundation’s Professional Advisory Board.
Remy apologized for being “not as exciting as Sheriff Joe Arpaio,” but assured us that she is “probably a little more practical.”
Remy was an estate planning and tax attorney for six years before joining the bank as a trust administrator two years ago. BMO Harris is a private bank, meaning all of their clients are individuals. Each of their trust account clients is assigned a wealth management team, which includes a private banker, a financial planner, an investment manager, and Remy.
When someone has a trust and the bank or another financial institution has been appointed as the trustee of that trust, the bank assumes the legal obligation to manage the trust in the best interest of all of the beneficiaries. These fiduciary duties include:
  • Impartiality – Most trusts have multiple beneficiaries, all with different needs and interests. The trust administrator is obligated to manage the trust account in the best interests of all according to the dictates of the trust document, without favoring any of the beneficiaries.
  • Loyalty – “My duty is to the beneficiaries of the trust, not to the bank.”
  • Skill and Care – This means following the trust document; following the intent. AZ statutes changed in 2009 to allow a paragraph to be added to the trust document to explain the intent of the trust. “That is a great paragraph for someone in my position. It can really clarify the intent of the person who created the trust.”
  • Prudent Investor Rule – the director of the trust works with the portfolio manager to be sure the assets and investments are diversified to best achieve the intent of the trust for the intended duration of the trust.
Remy told us that one of the great reasons to pick a corporate trustee is family conflict. “I’m a little surprised at how many moms don’t talk to their daughters, or sons who have been estranged for years.” They’re still beneficiaries, but family dynamics change and they all have to be considered impartially. Another reason would be simply because the family members don’t have the time and resources to properly manage the account.
A trust document should also have a provision that states what to do if a beneficiary doesn’t believe the trustee is doing the job well. Usually a majority of the beneficiaries can agree to remove the trustee and appoint someone else. The details vary per document.