Family. Heritage. Trust.
As an elder law attorney, Michael Day, the founder of The Family Heritage Trust Company, is acutely aware of the need for trusts as an estate planning tool. Throughout Michael’s career, he has observed life circumstances among the aging and special needs populations that highlight the importance of trusts. In 2007, in coordination with other local attorneys and CPA’s that saw the same need, The Family Heritage Trust Company was formed.
Michael’s daughter, Breann Day, had a career in social work prior to earning her Master’s in Business Administration. Mike saw the possibility in that combination and urged his daughter to bring her experience and educational focus to the organization. In 2017, Breann joined the firm and in 2022, she became Chief Operating Officer.
“The Family Heritage Trust Company is tailored to meet the needs of anyone requiring a trust, but more importantly, the aging and special-needs populations,” Breann shared. “We’re comfortable managing situations that require advanced planning and instruction, including long-term care, government assistance and complicated family dynamics. In these situations, we can ensure that assets are appropriately organized and allocated.”
“The Family Heritage Trust Company serves as an objective and qualified third party for administering financial intentions,” explained Ashley Goldsborough, Vice President of Trust Administration. "It’s the intentions of a grantor that determine how and when their services are provided."
“A trust document can be as vague as saying, ‘provide for the health and welfare of Cassidy,’ or as detailed as saying, ‘will pay for Cassidy’s education at an accredited school as long as she remains drug free.’ We ensure that the trust guidelines, details and specifics are followed to the letter,” Ashley explained. “People will often consider naming a family member as trustee; however, naming us as trustee guarantees proper oversight of the trust and mitigates any family contention from enforcing the stipulations of the trust.”
Multiple Aspects of Service
The Family Heritage Trust Company services trusts that other companies are unwilling to accept. While larger trust companies require upwards of a million-dollar minimum to act as trustee, The Family Heritage Trust Company has no financial threshold to qualify for services.
“We know that a small trust can still have a big impact,” said Breann.
Recently, a small special needs trust was funded by a family grantor to buy the favorite toys and snacks for a special needs beneficiary. These are items that government assistance or the individual’s group home does not supply. Yet, these small luxuries enhance the quality of life for this individual immensely and by leaving it in trust, the grantor can ensure their loved one has these items for their lifetime without jeopardizing their agency benefits.
Another important use for trusts is in the aging community. The establishment of a trust, particularly with elder orphans (aging persons that have no immediate family to care for them), is growing in popularity. The use of a trust allows the aging person, as both the grantor and the beneficiary, to be confident that their finances are secure and well managed. They can continue to maintain their independence without worries as The Family Heritage Trust Company ensures that all the bills are paid, and their assets are protected from abuse.
The Family Heritage Trust checks-in with their clients and trust beneficiary’s regularly to ensure their needs are being met. The company is not a social services agency and their primary responsibility is fiduciary; however, they have a high touch service model that is very important to them. They show up, put eyes on their beneficiaries and advocate for them.
Safe and Secure Finances
Fiduciary responsibility is a key reason for having The Family Heritage Trust Company manage funds. Being a Fiduciary means they are bound by law to act in their client’s best interest. The Family Heritage Trust Company ensures there is no fiscal abuse or misuse. Having funds in a trust limits the amount of money in a bank account, thereby protecting the beneficiary’s funds from accessibility and fraud.
Having a knowledgeable representative to ensure legal compliance is extremely important since regulations can change every year. The Family Heritage Trust Company ensures that each beneficiary’s funds are appropriately allocated. Before every distribution of funds, their trust committee checks the current laws to ensure nothing could disqualify a trust beneficiary from any services, such as housing or food assistance.
Anne Marie Brandes, Director of Marketing, commented, “Attorneys actually draft the trust documents that we then manage. We assume the task of ensuring the grantor’s intentions are carefully followed. For ease of administration, it’s helpful and appreciated when the grantor starts the conversation about how the trust will work before the trust is enacted.”
“All of the trust beneficiaries have varying needs and different levels of independence,” Breann shared. “And the grantors are very appreciative for the peace of mind our service provides.”
“Of course,” she added, “beneficiaries are occasionally unhappy about their accessibility to funds or how the funds are distributed, but that is usually why the funds were put in Trust. A trust ensures the funds are used as intended, while also working to ensure that the trust will last as long as the beneficiary’s needs exist.”
“We provide a lot of oversight and service,” Ashley shared. “Not only do our lawyers double check everything before funds are distributed, we also cross-train all our staff members. Each of us is engaged in the care of our clients and beneficiaries. There is nearly always someone in the office who can serve the caller.”
When asked how families learn about them, the key leaders rapidly listed various ways: The Arc of Frederick County, STAR Community in Hagerstown, connections with local attorneys with specializations in estate planning, personal injury and divorce and, of course, word of mouth.
Protecting the Future
The Family Heritage Trust Company has grown significantly over the last 16 years. While they have offices in Frederick and Hagerstown and focus on those regions, they also serve all of Maryland, Virginia, DC and southern Pennsylvania. As a part of their long-term and succession planning, The Family Heritage Trust Company anticipates self-chartering by the end of 2023.
“All of the Board members are shareholders,” said Breann. “They’re adamant that the firm won’t be sold or become part of a larger agency. The values and mission of The Family Heritage Trust Company are unique. The trust funds won’t go elsewhere.”
As they have grown, The Family Heritage Trust Company has attracted exceptionally experienced staff looking to do more in the community. Their talents and knowledge have been a perfect match for the growing and changing client needs. The Family Heritage Trust Company provides families with peace of mind and continuity of service. They step up internally and externally to meet the needs of the team and their clients.
“We go that extra mile,” said Anne Marie.
“We love our jobs,” added Ashley.
“While responsibly managing investments, traditional investment accounts are a part of our business. The Family Heritage Trust Company focuses on trusts. We have a special passion for special needs trusts. We serve a critical purpose for our clients and beneficiaries,” said Breann. “There’s so much more to us than investing.”
They exemplify their name. Family. Heritage. Trust.
“The Family Heritage Trust Company is tailored to meet the needs of anyone requiring a trust, but more importantly, the aging and special-needs populations."
“While responsibly managing investments...We have a special passion for special needs trusts."