I typically don’t comment on our cover art, but when I saw the cover we selected for this month, I couldn’t help thinking that it was a perfect metaphor for the topics discussed in this month’s Committee Report on fiduciary professions. The photograph depicts a woman bending backwards while precariously balancing on the edge of a tilted chair. As many of our authors point out, acting as a fiduciary requires a similarly tough balancing act. A fiduciary must balance the grantor’s intent with the needs of the beneficiary, while complying with prudent investor rules, as well as upcoming new basis reporting requirements. One slip-up can result in litigation. Not an easy task!
For example, the court cases described in “Fiduciary Law Trends,” p. 56, by Carly E. Howard and Michael Sneeringer, illustrate the many duties of a fiduciary, as well as how easy it is for a fiduciary to land in hot water. Also, “Minimize Litigation Risks in Estate Plans,” p. 43, by Barbara R. Grayson, shows how difficult it can be for a fiduciary to fulfill her duties if the wording of a trust document isn’t clear. Things can become even more complex if a trust owns all or part of a business, as illustrated by “The Trustee’s Role in an Owners Council,” p. 52, by Amelia Renkert-Thomas. Finally, on top of everything else, fiduciaries will have to navigate new Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements, as discussed in “Proposed Property Value and Basis Reporting Rules Create Challenges,” p. 47, by Suzanne L. Shier and Benjamin J. Lavin.
I’d also like to acknowledge the accomplishments of a few of our editorial advisory board members. Congratulations to Paulina Mejia, who’s been promoted to the head of wealth strategies at Atlantic Trust in New York City and to Christopher P. Woehrle, who’s been promoted to associate professor of taxation at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Penn.