Fiduciary Services




Fiduciary Services

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:

  • Customized reporting
  • Easy-to-understand client statements
  • Income projection reports
  • Investment performance reports
  • Timely distributions of income and principal
  • Bill paying
  • Gift processing
  • Making discretionary distributions to beneficiaries
  • Conducting family meetings
  • Preparing trust tax returns
  • Providing secure online access to trust information

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.

What is the Estate Tax and How Does it Work?

Posted on February 17, 2021 by

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 […]

Stimulus Payments: When Should I File My 2020 Taxes?

Posted on February 11, 2021 by

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 […]

Holiday Giving: Will My Gifts Have Tax Consequences?

Posted on December 14, 2020 by

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 Should Make Large Gifts – Now!

Posted on July 30, 2020 by , and

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 […]

IRS Provides More Retirement Plan and IRA Relief

Posted on June 24, 2020 by

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 […]

IRS Provides Information on Where to Send Deceased Individual’s Stimulus Check

Posted on May 7, 2020 by

On the same day we published the article My Deceased Family Member Received a COVID-19 Stimulus Check, Now What? the IRS provided guidance on how to return stimulus payments that were made under the CARES Act to deceased individuals. If your deceased family member or relative received a paper check by mail, you should follow these […]

My Deceased Family Member Received a COVID-19 Stimulus Check, Now What?

Posted on May 6, 2020 by

There has been significant publicity surrounding the issue of deceased individuals receiving stimulus checks under the CARES Act.  It is far more common than you may think, simply because of the speed in which our government operated to send out the payments.  The stimulus checks were issued to individuals that met certain income requirements and […]

You Have Been Named as an Agent Under a Wisconsin Power of Attorney: Now What?

Posted on April 29, 2020 by and

Maybe you were informed ahead of time or maybe you found out when you were first called upon to act.  In any event, someone (a parent, a sibling, a friend, a neighbor) named you as their agent or attorney-in-fact under a Wisconsin power of attorney for finances.[1]  Now what?[2] What Are Your Rights and Responsibilities?  […]

IRS Extends 60-Day Rollover Deadline

Posted on April 17, 2020 by

In our recent blog post, The Early Bird RMD Doesn’t Get the Tax Relief Worm, we provided guidance regarding the suspension of required minimum distributions (RMDs) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”).  We advised that if you already took your RMD for 2020, the CARES Act may allow you […]

Charitable Giving in the Age of COVID-19

Posted on April 15, 2020 by and

As many churches in our area celebrated Easter in their parking lots or over video recordings, we cannot help but think what impact the coronavirus is having on not just churches but other local nonprofit organizations in our communities.  Loss of jobs or lowered salaries have left many people cutting non-essential expenses, including club memberships […]

More Insights...