Fiduciary Governance Blog

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A trustee’s duty to establish return objectives or “Don’t be a lemming”

Duty to Establish a Target Return:  Section 2(b) of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act directs, “A trustee’s investment and management decisions… must be evaluated… as a part of an overall investment strategy having risk and return objectives reasonably suited to the trust.”  A prudent trustee would not hire an employee without describing at some level…

Is your client’s investment advisor better than average?

Vanguard vs. Client: The Vanguard LifeStrategy Moderate Growth Fund (VSMGX) is (1) well diversified (60% global stocks and 40% bonds), (2) inexpensive (0.15% per year), (3) has a long and successful 20-year track record, and (4) is really big ($15b). How does your client’s moderately allocated portfolio with a similar risk and return profile compare…

It’s harder to be a trustee than to go down steps on a pogo stick

The Problem: You are a trustee. You said “Yes” when a family member, close friend, or client asked you if you would serve as their successor trustee. Now, the settlor is dead, and you occupy the fiduciary office. And for that you will receive treasures in heaven… and consternation here on earth, because the beneficiaries…

Anatomy of a Trustee Lawsuit

Twice in the last 30 days we have gotten calls from attorneys who are representing trustees being sued by disgruntled beneficiaries.

ERISA §1104(a)(1)(c): Duty to balance risk and return with Alternative Investments

Prudence not Prescience Trustees are required to make hard investment decisions. They are to take into consideration the risk of loss and the opportunity for gain associated with each particular investment or investment course of action. ERISA trustees are required to balance the risk and return of each investment decision under conditions of uncertainty. Because…

Prudent Delegation Standard of Care: Registered Investment Advisor v. Registered Representative

In the same way a trustee owes duties of care and loyalty to the beneficiaries of a trust, the investment managers also owe a particular standard of care to the trust itself. A prudent trustee will determine what standard of care is owed by the money managers to whom investment duties have been delegated. Investment…

A Trustee’s duty to monitor the risk within the trust portfolio

Duty to Establish Risk Expectations:  Section 2(b) of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act directs that “A trustee’s investment and management decisions respecting individual assets must be evaluated not in isolation but in the context of the trust portfolio as a whole and as a part of an overall investment strategy having risk [expectations] reasonably suited to the…

Duty re Liquidity or “What’s the Game Plan?”

Statutory Considerations: Section 2(c)(7) of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act directs that, “Among circumstances that a trustee shall consider in investing and managing trust assets are… needs for liquidity, regularity of income, and preservation or appreciation of capital.” A prudent trustee understands that there will be periods when the portfolio does not accomplish the established return objectives, though the…

UPIA §7 re Duty to Pay Only Fair Fees

Section 7 of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act states, “In investing and managing trust assets, a trustee may only incur costs that are appropriate and reasonable…