Bringing Order to Life’s Transitions

Case Examples

Foster Thornton is committed to protecting the assets, interests and dignity of each client. These case examples reflect the dedication we bring to a variety of circumstances.

Consultant to Successor Trustee
Mr. O’s wife passed away, and his health began to decline.  He became unable to handle his day-to-day affairs.  Mr. O resigned as trustee of his trust.  He appointed his eldest son, who lives on the East Coast, as successor trustee.  Mr. O’s two other sons live in different parts of the country. Because the son serving as successor trustee lived so far away from his father, he retained Foster Thornton to assist him.  This included visiting Mr. O, paying Mr. O’s bills, and handling his insurance administration and tax preparation.  Foster Thornton also coordinated Mr. O’s move into an assisted living facility, sale of the family home, and disposition of the contents of the home.  Upon Mr. O’s passing, Foster Thornton assisted with end-of-life arrangements and completion of the trust administration

Consultant to Trustee
Mrs. S’s husband passed away.  During his life, he handled all of their financial affairs.  The S’s significant assets were divided between an “A” Trust and a “B” Trust.  Upon the recommendation of Mrs. S’s estate planning attorney, Mrs. S retained Foster Thornton to assist her.  This involved administering the trusts, including bill pay oversight, maintaining detailed accountings for each trust, cash management, coordination with the tax CPA for estimated tax payments, and tax return preparation.

Court Appointed Trustee
A father appointed his eldest son as successor trustee.  Three years after the father’s passing, the eldest son’s siblings filed a court action to remove him as trustee.  They charged him with financial mismanagement, poor communication, and lack of expected distributions.
The court removed the eldest son and appointed Ms. Thornton as successor trustee.  Ms. Thornton forensically reconstructed three years of trust transactions initiated by the eldest son. She discovered that the eldest son had spent trust funds exceeding $1 million, solely for his own benefit, and to the detriment of his siblings. Through litigation, the eldest son forfeited his interest in the trust.  Ms. Thornton successfully recovered and distributed the significant remaining assets to the other siblings.

Financial Management for a Recent Widow
After her husband’s death, Mrs. Smith retained Foster Thornton to assist her with individual financial management. This task seemed overwhelming to Mrs. Smith as she had never had these responsibilities before. Foster Thornton made the transition as easy as possible. Foster Thornton created a custom solution that relieved Mrs. Smith of the overwhelming details and simplified ongoing financial management tasks. Foster Thornton also provided a plan to protect and enhance Mrs. Smith’s assets according to her personal goals and the goals of the family Trust. Mrs. Smith’s situation was especially challenging because Mr. Smith had previously operated a business in the home. This included a complex investment portfolio that he had managed personally. Foster Thornton met with the trust and estate lawyer, the CPA, and the investment advisor. Foster Thornton then assisted Mrs. Smith with the transition of the trust assets, tax planning and tax return preparation, and with the development of an updated investment plan. Foster Thornton then prepared an annual budget. Foster Thornton consolidated and streamlined Mrs. Smith’s accounts so that her monthly financial management consisted of a few simple tasks. Foster Thornton continues to assist Mrs. Smith on a limited monthly basis to ensure her finances remain in order, her tax responsibilities are taken care of, and her investments are being monitored.

Financial Power of Attorney and Executor of Will for Couple With Health Challenges
Mr. and Mrs. Jones are 74 and 63. They live and operate their own business in their home. Both Mr. and Mrs. Jones have serious ongoing health challenges. All of their family members live out of state. Mr. Jones has had several surgeries over the past year. These have caused him to be away from home a significant amount of time. Mrs. Joneses’ physical activity is limited, but she is able to continue to operate the business, which consists primarily of talking to clients on the phone. Previously, Mr. Jones had handled both the personal finances and the financial management for the business. Foster Thornton stepped in to assist the Joneses with ongoing personal and business financial management while Mr. Jones was in the hospital or recovering from surgery. Foster Thornton provides assistance with monthly accountings, income and payroll tax reporting requirements, healthcare insurance and other issues. In order to provide them additional peace of mind, the Joneses have given Ms. Thornton Financial Power of Attorney and have appointed her Executor of their Will.

Successor Trustee of Middle Aged Man’s Trust
Mr. Brown named Ms. Thornton as Successor Trustee of his Trust one year before he became ill and passed away. As Successor Trustee, upon Mr. Brown’s passing, Ms. Thornton then served as Trustee of his Trust for seven years working closely with Mr. Brown’s son, the sole beneficiary of the Trust. Mr. Brown had a significant estate consisting of real property, life insurance, retirement plans, an investment portfolio, real estate investments and an interest in a family business. Ms. Thornton collaborated for several months with the trust and estate lawyer to resolve all of the estate issues in accordance with the Trust document and the wishes of Mr. Brown. She also worked with the CPA to address all current and future tax ramifications. Ms. Thornton worked with the investment advisor and the beneficiary on a long-term investment plan. She then managed the estate on an ongoing basis working with the beneficiary, who was 28 years old, on his own personal financial and career goals and objectives. Over the seven year period, Mr. Brown’s son was married, had two children, and developed a successful residential real estate business. The Trust passed to Mr. Brown’s son at age 35 and he continues to build on the legacy left to him by his father.

Personal CFO to Busy Entrepreneurial Couple
The Whites are a busy, professional couple in their mid-40s. They have two children. The Whites retained Foster Thornton to assist them monthly with their personal financial management. This includes cash management, bill paying, preparation of a monthly financial statement, and coordination of banking and financing needs. It also includes working with their investment advisor to ensure that their investment plan is being followed and the results are being monitored. Foster Thornton also works with their CPA for all tax planning and tax reporting requirements. This allows the Whites time to focus on their numerous business interests, the children’s school, sports and social activities, their own social schedule, and their busy travel schedule.

Beneficiary of Multiple Family Trusts
Mr. and Mrs. Cook are a middle-aged couple who each run their own business. They have two children in college at opposite ends of the country. The Cooks maintain two homes and are the beneficiaries of multiple family trusts. Foster Thornton tailored a solution for the Cooks that includes implementation and maintenance of a sophisticated accounting setup that will allow the Cooks to generate monthly financial statements, track annual budgets, project income and expenses and monitor individual trust investment performance. In addition, the Cooks rely on Foster Thornton to handle routine tasks for them while they are away from home on extended trips.

Court-Appointed $50 Million Trust Administration

In 2015, the Los Angeles Probate Court removed the existing successor trustee of the D Family Trust and appointed Nancy Thornton.  Mrs. D died in 2005.  Mr. D died in 2014.  Total assets were about $50 million including marketable securities and commercial real estate.  Sub-trust funding and estate tax return were not completed at Mrs. D’s death.  Ms. Thornton successfully administered the trust including filing of Mrs. D’s estate tax return (requiring reconstruction of assets values from 10 years prior) and Mr. D’s estate tax return, sale of a $10 million dollar industrial property with environmental issues, and successful funding of the various sub-trusts for the benefit of the children and grandchildren.

Court-Appointed Successor Trustee to Replace Brother/Sister Trustee Team

Mom died in early 2016.  Brother and Sister were successor co-trustees which resulted in Sister filing a court action against Brother for breach of fiduciary duty including improper distributions of funds.  Court appointed Ms. Thornton as sole successor trustee.  Ms. Thornton reconstructed records from Mom’s date of death forward resulting in equalizing distributions to all beneficiaries, successfully sold real estate and worked with beneficiaries on the disposition of personal property in a very contentious environment.

Successor Trustee for Couple, Both Incapacitated

Husband was sole caregiver for Wife until he placed Wife in care facility.  Husband managed all financial matters.  Husband became ill resulting in his incapacity.  The couple has no children or family.  Ms. Thornton was appointed medical power of attorney, financial power of attorney and successor trustee.  Ms. Thornton retained a geriatric care manager to oversee both Husband and Wife’s care.