The Family Business as a Trust Asset - Charles W. Ranson

Charles W. Ranson

These days it is common for the transfer of wealth among generations be in the form of a family business. The family dynamic adds complexities to this exchange and calls for additional help.

I recently gave more insight into these types of cases.

“More intergenerational wealth transfer is taking place where the asset is the family operated business which created the wealth of the family in the first place. Corporate trustees with professionals managing securities portfolios are also beefing up their professional capabilities of prudently managing family operated businesses. The complexity of managing a family business in trust may require the trustee to delegate certain aspects of the business management to a third-party expert.

“In a recent case I was tasked to evaluate the prudence of a personal representative of an estate that held one of the largest thoroughbred horse farms in Florida along with a large complex portfolio of commercial real estate in California. The sibling contingent beneficiaries sued their sister the trustee for breach of fiduciary duty. My report analysis and reviewed the actions of the personal representative in managing each of the estates business entities.

“In my view the personal representative exercise prudence in the administration of the estate by engaging third-party expert to assist her in liquidating the estate assets in the midst of the global financial crisis of 2008 2009. After testifying at trial the court ruled in the personal representatives favor granting the personal representative’s motion for summary judgment dismissing the breach of fiduciary duty claim brought by her siblings and granting her request for additional compensation in addition to statutory compensation for her services as personal representative of the estate.”



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