In 1782, between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution of the United States, noted historian, public servant and barrister George Richards Minot nailed his sign to an elm tree in what is now Boston’s financial district, opened an office, and thus began a tradition of fiduciary services that has endured for over 200 years. His firm evolved into the present day Rice, Heard & Bigelow, which is proud of its heritage and committed to carrying on Mr. Minot’s tradition of individual – not corporate – trusteeship for clients who desire personal attention to their investments, estate plans and tax matters.
As perhaps the first private trustee office in the nation, Rice, Heard & Bigelow (RHB) is now one of the few places where individuals and families can go for professional management of their personal assets and affairs by people serving as their trustees. This is unique in the world of trust companies, corporate trustees, national banks and institutional investment advisors. Rather than follow the modern corporate model, RHB has remained independent and driven by the quality of its people and its clients. The firm remains based in Boston and serves several generations of families across the country and around the world.
In describing the role of the private trustee, a Boston Evening Transcript article printed on January 5, 1935 referred to the members of Minot, DeBlois & Maddison, predecessor firm to RHB, as follows: “The Boston Trustee is known over all the country as an outstanding example of the man who serves ably and honestly those who entrust to him the care of property and the conserving and upbuilding of estates.” These words are as appropriate a description of the current trustees of RHB as they were of the early trustees of the firm. When William Minot, son of George Richards Minot, first began his distinguished fiduciary career, he was entrusted with $4,000 that Benjamin Franklin had bequeathed to Boston. After 64 years of Mr. Minot’s administration, he turned over $125,000 to the City. In more recent times, the prominent philanthropist Charles Cotting established a trust upon his death in 1985 to subsidize students and faculty at the Harvard Business School. He named members of RHB to manage his trust, which is now the largest of its kind at the school. These examples are reflective of the firm’s history of consistency in upholding the wishes of its clients and in building wealth over long periods of time.
Since 1782 the world has undergone radical changes. People at RHB and its predecessor firms have come and gone. Yet the dedication to personal service for clients and commitment to a standard of excellence in working with and understanding each individual, family or charity remain the same today. Whether the matter is a complicated income tax problem, the settlement of an estate, a multi-generational gift plan, a tailored investment policy statement or the management of various sources of wealth, clients rely heavily upon the firm’s rich blend of legal, tax and investment professionals. It is our mission to continue to be a safe harbor for those looking for independent advice, honesty, responsiveness and trust, all of which Mr. Minot instilled in this firm over 200 years ago.