The trustees at RHB forge close relationships with their clients and beneficiaries who range from the creators of revocable trusts to the fourth generation beneficiaries of an irrevocable trust to charitable entities. The trustees generally serve until retirement, so there is no constant turnover of “relationship managers” or “account officers”, and often become trusted advisors to families on a variety of matters.
At Rice, Heard & Bigelow, we believe that the input from legal, tax and investment professionals benefits clients as they develop strategies for making gifts, estate planning and intergenerational planning. Comprehensive services provided by the firm include the collection and disbursement of trust income, trust accounting and tax preparation, payment of household employees and related taxes, bill paying, gift-giving programs and assistance with philanthropic endeavors. We believe that our coordinated strategy produces the best overall results.
The trustees at RHB are advised by Minot DeBlois Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm wholly-owned by RHB, regarding the investment of trust assets. RHB trustees believe that the management of risk is as important in investing as is the search for return, and employ in a disciplined manner many techniques to reduce the risk of capital loss in trust portfolios. RHB trustees must evaluate the risk of loss inherent in any individual holding and, by diversification, attempt to offset this risk in constructing an entire portfolio. Adherence to these rules precludes investing in speculative vehicles, and, based on long experience, we steer a course toward more established and proven investments.
The core investments in trust portfolios at RHB are typically high-quality common stocks in established, growing, well-managed domestic corporations. Exposure to international equities, including emerging markets, is achieved through the use of mutual funds and American Depository Receipts (ADRs). A portion of almost every trust portfolio is invested in fixed-income securities for stability, safety and income. Such investments are usually in the form of short to intermediate term U.S. Government bonds, municipal bonds, money market funds, and international bonds. The appropriate percentage to be invested in bonds in any trust account depends on the risk tolerance of the client, the length of time we have to invest, and the need for current income. Since no two clients are exactly alike in their goals, needs and circumstances, no two trust portfolios are exactly alike.
For those trusts for which tax, liquidity, legal and other conditions make these investments appropriate, trustees may move relatively small portions of trust capital into alternative investment classes. Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) and other alternative asset classes have been added to core stock, bond and cash holdings in order to increase expected return and decrease expected volatility.
We maintain a flexible and highly individualized investment approach toward every client’s portfolio. We believe it is vital to know each client’s goals, objectives, constraints and tax considerations, and that communication and shared expectations are at the heart of a successful investment program. One of the great strengths of Rice, Heard & Bigelow is our close relationship with each client, a relationship built upon trust and personal service.
Estate Planning and Administration
Two principals of RHB are estate planning attorneys and they routinely meet with clients to discuss their estate planning needs. This allows trustees at RHB to work closely with the client’s estate planning attorney, using their knowledge of the client’s financial situation, family circumstances and goals and the estate, gift and GST-transfer tax laws and regulations, to ensure an efficient process resulting in a well-crafted estate plan, with reduced legal fees.
Principals of RHB also serve as executors and work with legal counsel to probate efficiently the estate, prepare and file the necessary estate and income tax forms, and terminate or fund trusts as required. In some longstanding family relationships, they also serve as agents under durable powers of attorney and healthcare proxies.
Rice, Heard & Bigelow’s tax department offers comprehensive services to individuals, trusts, estates, and charitable entities. All tax returns are prepared in-house by professionals with long experience in handling basic and complex tax issues on the federal and state level. When requested by our clients, we also prepare returns for closely-held corporations, family partnerships, family foundations and other charitable entities. In combination with RHB’s expertise in trust administration and investment management, the tax department professionals develop tax and financial planning strategies that enable the firm to better advise its clients. All tax preparation services are billed on an hourly basis.