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Private Trust Companies

What is a private trust company, and what are its benefits?

In the United States a private trust company is typically a company authorized to act as a trustee of one or more family trusts but not to offer trust services to the general public on a retail basis. It is usually owned and/or controlled by the family or by one of the family trusts. Often, day-to-day administrative matters of the trust company are handled by the family office (either directly or indirectly). However, matters of governance are overseen by a trust company-specific board of directors.

While a private trust company has many benefits, the primary advantages in today’s environment are perpetual life, control of trust assets, confidentiality, investment flexibility, professional management by trusted advisors, education for family and beneficiaries, and facilitation of generational wealth transition.

The trust company managers, directors and trusted advisors are obligated to focus on the interests of one family (or an extended family), thus enhancing the probability that the family’s mission, vision and values will be respected and successfully applied. A properly constituted private trust company will engage in best practices of fiduciary and trust administration according to a set of detailed policies and procedures, and will preferably submit itself to regulatory oversight by the state in which it is incorporated.

— Alan Heath, 2019

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