Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.
Building wealth is not an easy task; it takes hard work, ingenuity, patience, and sound advice. Keeping wealth, enhancing it, and ensuring that it is disposed of in a sensible, tax-advantaged way requires similar effort. At Ruder Ware, we offer our clients a distinctive blend of legal, fiduciary, estate, and tax planning services, all in one place. Paying careful attention to the client and the client’s family is essential to what we do as lawyers and fiduciaries.
Continuing a long tradition at Ruder Ware, our attorneys can help you accomplish your goals by serving as trustees for you and your beneficiaries through our fiduciary services department. As trustees, we carefully manage and protect your trust assets, distribute income and principal according to the trust document, and provide accurate and timely reporting regarding all trust activities. Our attorneys are honored by client requests to serve as trustees and consider this work to be their highest calling.
Why Do Lawyers Make Effective Trustees?
Our lawyers are trained in the sophisticated nuances of trust law, estate and charitable planning, taxation, real estate, business planning, probate law, and estate settlement. Those skills, backed by solid investment research and sound judgment, are the hallmarks of a good trustee. At Ruder Ware, qualified attorneys, not the firm, serve as trustees. This personal responsibility results in a high level of personal service to our Fiduciary Services clients.
Philosophy and Approach
As trustees, we strive to enhance and preserve the value of our clients’ assets, both in absolute dollars and in purchasing power. Achieving these investment objectives and building a family’s wealth require a long-term perspective and a focus on companies with growing earnings and strong balance sheets. It calls for a disciplined approach where success is measured over several years rather than a few fiscal quarters.
Typically, our clients’ investment objectives lead us to structuring a diversified trust investment portfolio, with appropriate investments across asset classes and industry and economic sectors, offering the prospect of substantial growth in earnings and value over the longer term. Because we are usually involved in developing a client’s overall estate and financial plan, we also take into consideration the client’s real estate holdings, business interests, significant items of personal property, life insurance, and retirement plan assets.
How Do We Make Investment Decisions?
We make investments for our trusts in consultation with William Blair & Company, a private investment advisory firm in Chicago, Illinois. The equity positions in our trusts are comprised of stocks. Individual stock purchases allow us to avoid the front- and back-end load fees and internal operating charges of mutual funds. In addition, individual stock portfolios allow us to control the realization of taxable income in each of our trusts. We hold cash in money market funds that invest in U.S. Treasury issues. We purchase risk-free U.S. Treasury bonds and high-quality corporate bonds as income investments and to preserve liquidity. Where appropriate, we also use municipal bonds, real estate investments, venture capital opportunities, and other alternative investments.
In structuring a trust’s investments, we work from a focus list of stocks that William Blair & Company analysts develop for us based on their own research. We seek companies that have high-quality management, make products that contribute positively to society, operate with low debt, and account to their shareholders honestly.
In addition to our outside investment counsel, we avail ourselves of investment information and advice from a variety of other sources. Our trustees meet monthly to review trends in the economy and the financial markets outside the context of a particular trust portfolio. We also meet periodically with independent investment professionals who share their experience and opinions with us. A number of our attorneys serve as co-trustees with other fiduciary organizations, including banks, investment companies, and charitable funds. These positions give us insight into a range of investment opportunities and perspectives that enhance our own investment process.
How Do We Deliver Trust Services?
Our Fiduciary Services staff is responsible for safekeeping trust assets, collecting and distributing income, processing securities transactions, and maintaining necessary account records. Regardless of whether a trust holds stocks, bonds, real estate, personal property, or retirement assets, the services of our trustees include:
We Work With Your Other Trusted Advisors
Our trustees will work directly with your accountant, financial planner, life insurance agent, and other professional advisors to ensure that the various components of your financial plan are integrated properly.
Founded in 1920, Ruder Ware provides business, employment, estate planning, and litigation services through its offices in Wausau, Eau Claire, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. A full-service law firm, over 40 attorneys provide clients with a one-stop approach to their legal needs. Ruder Ware, Business Attorneys for Business Success.
Posted on July 22, 2021 by Ashley L. Hawley
“Probate” is a legal term for the Court process of transferring assets out of a deceased person’s name and to that person’s heirs and/or beneficiaries. The difference between the term “heir” and the term “beneficiary” is that an heir is someone who is entitled to receive the assets of a deceased person who died without […]
Posted on June 16, 2021 by Shanna N. Yonke
Summertime is a special time of year in Wisconsin. It brings many families to cabins where they create memories and traditions that will be cherished forever. However, many problems arise if families do not create a plan for the future ownership and management of the family cabin. The cabin may be subject to the claims […]
Ruder Ware’s Trusts & Estates blog has featured several posts (for example, Call to Action: Review Your Estate Plan in Light of the SECURE Act and Why SECURE Act Matters to You) on the SECURE Act, a federal law effective January 1, 2020, that made significant changes to the payout provisions of inherited retirement benefits, […]
In the United States Congress, there is an arduous journey before a bill becomes law. See the classic School House Rock! video, “I’m Just a Bill.” But there is a common theme running through some gift and estate tax bills that have been introduced in Congress this year. That is: an appropriate way to raise […]
Posted on March 17, 2021 by Ashley L. Hawley
Our team here at Ruder Ware has focused previous blogs and other educational materials on ways to avoid adult guardianship (see Related Articles section at the end of my post); however, there may be some instances where guardianship is unavoidable. Earlier this month, I attempted to simplify the guardianship process in my vlog. This blog […]
Posted on February 17, 2021 by Shanna N. Yonke
Earlier this month, I provided a very brief overview of the estate tax in a vlog. You can view the vlog here. In this blog post, I’ll expand on estate tax basics. What is the estate tax? At its foundation, the estate tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of property upon death. It […]
Posted on February 11, 2021 by Kayla E. Murphy
With Congress still negotiating a third round of stimulus payments, you should carefully consider when to file your taxes this tax season. Tax season begins February 12th and ends April 15th. Filing your taxes earlier or later within that time period may determine whether or not you receive the third stimulus payment and how much […]
Posted on December 14, 2020 by Kayla E. Murphy
The holiday season is a time of giving! With Christmas arriving next week, you might be rushing to find last minute gifts for the special people in your life. Have you considered potential tax consequences of those gifts? The annual gift exclusion for 2020 is $15,000. This means that an individual donor may gift $15,000 […]
Peter, Paul, and Mary have done well for themselves. Each has a nice home, a seasonal residence, and a large IRA. Coincidentally, each also has an additional $11 million worth of real estate, savings, brokerage accounts, and closely-held business interests. We advised Peter, Paul, and Mary that in 2020 each has a federal gift and […]
Posted on June 24, 2020 by Shanna N. Yonke
Yesterday, the IRS issued additional guidance regarding two hot topics over the last six months: the waiver of the 2020 required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement plans and IRAs, and the change in the required beginning date for RMDs from age 70 ½ to age 72. Extension and Expansion of 60-Day Rollover for 2020 RMDs […]