I wrote a month ago how I was opening a trust account for the revocable living trust we created as part of our estate planning. Well, creating the trust was step one, and lately, we've been working on executing the trust (meaning we're moving all the assets into the trust).
For some things, like transferring our house, our lawyer took care of it. For other things, like our investments, we had to take care of it. And after going through the process, I was surprised at how difficult it was to get a broker to open a trust account an then transfer all of our different assets and accounts to it.
The Process of Opening a Trust Account
For the most part, every broker can open a trust account for you – but the surprising thing I discovered was how unwilling several brokers made it. You'd think that every broker (online and offline) would want the business. That just wasn't the case.
When you're going to open an account for your trust, you have to go into the office, or you will have to mail in all of your paperwork. For whatever reason, you CANNOT open a trust account online. Even on sites like Scottrade, you can only print off the application – you still need to mail it in.
I found that going into the office was a better bet anyway, because the paper work is confusing. My guess is, if you mailed it in, you'd probably have to go into the office anyway to fix your original application. So, save your self the time, and go into the office.
Finally, just opening the account is part one. Then, you have to transfer your assets into your new account. And you really need your broker to help you with this, because I was surprised to see how difficult the transfer process was. The big hang-up that most accounts faced was name: we were moving from individually named accounts to the trust.
For whatever reason, a couple of accounts we had at another broker really didn't like this and were giving us problems that took a bit to resolve. We had to send it copies of our birth certificates and other documents to facilitate the transfer, which I've never had to deal with before.
After going through the process, I wanted to highlight the best brokers I encountered and the one I chose for my trust account.
The Best Broker of a Trust Account
I really looked at three different brokers when I went about opening my trust account. I didn't really look at the cheap investing sites I've mentioned before, because I needed more with my trust account than cheap options trading. Plus, most of those don't have branches.
Fidelity started out as my first choice for opening a trust account, because I've used them before with my mom's trust account and I really like their interface. The trouble was, there wasn't a convenient branch nearby, and calling them wasn't very helpful. They also charge a bit more than Scottrade, but not much.
TD Ameritrade was another broker I looked at, simply because I love their low cost investing, and they do have some offices. TD also has the easiest website options for opening a trust account, which was nice. But, once again, there wasn't an office conveniently near me, so I decided to go with Scottrade.
I did end up going with Scottrade for two reasons. One, I've used them for years and I do trust them. Plus, one of the biggest drawbacks of Scottrade was the lack of dividend reinvestment, and they've since added that. Two, they have branches everywhere, and one very close to my house. When I went into the office, they were great about opening the account and helping move over the other accounts as well. It was great to have personal service for this because, as I mentioned above, the process of transferring over the accounts was a bit tedious.
Tracking Our Trust Account
Finally, it's important that we track our accounts. I'm giving Personal Capital another try, and I'll share why in another post, but I'm liking them again for online portfolio management. If you haven't tried Personal Capital (which is free), I highly recommend that you see if their free software works for you.
Do you have a revocable living trust? Do you have a broker that you like for your trust account?