Welch & Forbes has a long tradition of excellence in serving our clients. The value we bring to each relationship extends well beyond our investment expertise. The following case studies exemplify how we differentiate ourselves as stewards of our client’s financial and personal affairs. Our professionals, whether they are portfolio managers, tax managers or estate settlement managers, consistently aim to make a difference in their client’s lives. These stories are evidence of that guiding principle.
Exceptional Client Service – 24/7
A valued client received a call late on Thanksgiving evening a few years ago from a person stating he was from Social Security Administration and needed to verify her checking account information. The client did not question the legitimacy of this request and gave the person the information. Upon reflection and subsequently trying to call the number the person left and receiving the message “number not in service” she became very nervous she had fallen victim of a scam and called the Client Service Manager at Welch & Forbes whom she had known for many years and whom she named on her Durable Power of Attorney.
The next morning the Manager was able to speak with the bank manager and using her Power of Attorney placed a freeze on the account. On Saturday morning the Manager picked up the client at her home and brought her to the bank to assist her in closing her account and opening a new account.
An Integrated Solution for Substantial Wealth
An ultra high net worth client became widowed in 2011. The newly increased tax exclusion amount of $5 Million (as of 2011) was exhausted by passing assets to various beneficiaries. This amount was exempt from estate and gift taxes. Considerable assets were remaining in the widow’s estate.
The Portfolio Manager determined the best strategy for protecting these assets by assessing the widow’s need for income, her time horizon and her tolerance for risk. Then he looked at specific stocks in the estate of the deceased, as well as the holdings in the marital and family trusts.
The specific estate planning strategies that he implemented included 1) a real estate trust for the family’s vacation home, 2) a charitable trust for her favorite cultural and educational institutions, and 3) a generation skipping trust to benefit her grandchildren.
Consolidating Various Family Office Services
In early 2001 an entrepreneur in her 50s, who had sold the family business to a major national public company, was looking for a solution to the family financial matters.
Up to that point, the family’s investment accounts were held at a major international brokerage house. Real estate mortgages were collateralized with bonds held at a major national bank, children’s trusts were managed at a Boston law firm, and tax preparation services provided by another company. The client needed a firm that could coordinate and consolidate the necessary services all under one roof.
A Portfolio Manager at Welch & Forbes established and manages six family accounts: first, a revocable trust for the entrepreneur consisting of stocks, bonds and some private equity; second, an irrevocable life insurance trust; third, three gift trusts for each of her children, and lastly, an IRA.
In addition to the trust and investment management roles, the Tax Department at Welch & Forbes has assumed responsibility for preparation and filing our client’s state and federal tax returns as well as making quarterly tax estimate payments.
Finally, through our close association with a boutique law firm, the Portfolio Manager arranged for preparation and routine updating of the client’s trusts, wills and health care proxy documents.
Portfolio Review and Fiduciary Oversight
A client of Welch & Forbes is a beneficiary of a sizable trust ($16 Million) that was established by her late husband. This trust is managed by an outside investment manager at the request of the husband. An investment committee oversees the trust and its management, consisting of two Welch & Forbes Portfolio Managers and one outside Trust and Estates attorney that the firm has worked with for years.
The trust is reviewed at least annually by a representative from the outside manager along with one or more of the investment committee members. In a recent meeting, a committee member inquired as to the fees being assessed for the trust.
In keeping with his fiduciary duty to his client, the Portfolio Manager estimated the fees that should have been assesed to the trust.
The Portfolio Manager reported to the committee that the trust had been overcharged a total of $140,955.76 by the outside investment manager. This amount was reimbursed to the trust with appropriate interest.
Tax Planning: Charitable Giving Solutions
Our client has an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and is over 70 ½ years old. Because of her age she must take a required minimum distribution from the IRA. The amount of her 2010 required minimum distribution is $16,099. She has made a pledge of $30,000 over two years to one of her favorite charities. She has sufficient income from other sources to fulfill her pledge.
A Tax Accountant at Welch & Forbes suggested that she partially fulfill her pledge to the charity by having the custodian of the IRA make her 2010 distribution directly to the charity. The Tax Accountant worked with the custodian and our client to insure that the entire required minimum distribution was paid to the charity.
This action met our client’s required minimum distribution, reduced her federal income tax and fulfilled her charitable desires.
Tax Planning: Life’s Changes
In 2012, the federal tax code allowed married filing jointly taxpayers to exclude $500,000 of gain when they sell their principal residence. If one spouse should die, the code allows the surviving spouse to use the $500,000 exclusion for two years after the deceased spouse’s date of death. After the two year period expires, the surviving spouse’s exclusion decreases to $250,000.
Our client, a recent widow, decided to sell her principal residence and move to a retirement community.
Due to a challenging real estate market, our client was unsure when to sell. She was also concerned about which offer she might accept because of the differing tax consequences of the sale.
The Tax Department provided her with a schedule that estimated the tax impact on the sale proceeds at different price levels using the $500,000 exclusion and, in the event that the sale was delayed, the tax impact using the $250,000 exclusion.
This schedule helped the client determine the optimum timing and price level of the sale of her principal residence.
Estate Settlement: Peace of Mind
A Welch & Forbes client passed away unexpectedly leaving a spouse who was not only overwhelmed with grief but also was inundated with post-death paperwork and the numerous complexities of handling the finances which she had never had to deal with before.
Welch & Forbes has an Estate Settlement Department to handle tasks as small as changing names on accounts and cancelling credit cards to the very complex task of timely filing detailed estate tax returns with our Tax Department. Throughout the process of settling her husband’s estate, various individuals at Welch & Forbes assisted the spouse with consolidating her own affairs, updating her will and eventually selling her large home in exchange for a more manageable one.
Estate Settlement: Unusual Final Wishes
A long time Welch & Forbes client passed away leaving a very complex estate to settle and no family heirs. The client’s many possessions ranged from having little to no value to extremely valuable. Along with his many personal items, he left pages of instructions expressing his final wishes.
The Estate Settlement Manager carried out his every last wish that included finding his dog a home and selecting his burial attire. The Manager emptied his house and sold his possessions to the appropriate parties to ensure the estate received the most money possible to bequest to the charity of his choice. Settling this estate involved numerous trips to and from his home and many tedious hours in order to get it done the way the client wanted.
Knowing we can serve our clients even after they have passed on is truly fulfilling and is part of the great service we pride ourselves on.