Newsletter Articles

After over three decades in the trust management business, we have built-up an endless collection of stories, experiences and industry insights.  We have written about these lessons learned in bi-annual newsletter articles.  These articles will help you understand what we do as trustee and how you can benefit from our services, mostly through the use of real stories from our business.


Here you'll find important announcements about exciting things happening with the Northwest Trustee team.

Journey to the Puget Sound

Stephen Trefts, President & Founder

An incredible journey started as a vision, born in the basement of our modest home more than 30 years ago, that led us to open an office in the Puget Sound.

Welcome Capstone!

We are thrilled to welcome Capstone Trust to the Northwest Trustee & Management Services’ family! The team from Capstone Trust is now part of Northwest Trustee, where we remain committed to offering trust and estate solutions. 

Celebrating 30 years

Our business has transformed into a leading independent trust company that spans across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

Idaho, we have arrived

Stephen Trefts, President

By creating a permanent presence in Boise, we have increased our ability to provide the unique services of an independent, non-bank, chartered Trust Company to residents all across Idaho.

Selecting a Trustee

The choice of who you chose as trustee will mean everything to you and your beneficiaries when it comes time to implement your estate plan.  These articles will give you more information when you are considering who to hire.

The Best Choice versus the Common Choice

The pitfalls of naming a family member or friend as Trustee or Personal Representative are highlighted in this article. We hope these stories assist you in selecting the best fiduciary for your plans. 

5 Easy Ways to Destroy an Estate Plan

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

When it comes to estate planning, the best laid-plans can derail because of simple oversights over time, or errors in judgement.  Here are some ways to help this not happen to you.

Becoming a State Chartered Trust Company

Stephen Trefts, President

By achieving the designation of a state chartered trust company, and with our new capabilities under the recently enacted directed trust laws, we are even better equipped to provide your clients with creative solutions to their complex fiduciary needs. 

Case Summary Highlights Potential Pitfalls in Estate Planning

Cam McGilivray, Trust Officer and In-house Councel

The following case was argued before the Washington Supreme Court, in which we successfully defended an estate under our management.  The ruling provides valuable lessons for both estate planning attorneys and their clients who are considering naming a family member as a trustee.

Common Pitfalls for a Trustee

Stephen Trefts, President

Occasionally a trustee is replaced because of malfeasance.  More commonly, the trustee is simply unable to fulfill his or her duties due to a lack of knowledge or skills, too little time, or because of interpersonal conflicts.

DÉJÀ VU: Return of the 2012 tsunami

by Greg Bowman, CEO

Let us help you with the tsunami of new trusts created by the end of this year.

Real Examples of Financial Exploitation

Stephen Trefts, President

Financial exploitation is often financially and emotionally devastating to the exploited individual.  The following true stories illustrate the complexity of the problem, and highlight some ways to prevent it from happening in the first place. 

The Duties of a Fiduciary

Cam McGilivray, Trust Officer

Entering a fiduciary relationship carries serious responsibilities.  In Washington, trustees are guided by both the terms of the trust document and by statutes pertaining to trusts.  This article outlines what can happen if there is a breach of fiduciary duty, as well a highlight some of the laws.

What We Do As: Trustee

Many people don't really know what is involved with  trust management.  These articles describe our services, and give some real examples of how we serve as trustee.

Meeting the Needs of our Beneficiaries Through All Life Stages

Stephen Trefts, President

This story of Margaret shows how we walk alongside our beneficiaries to ensure their needs are met through all the stages of life.

New Laws Herald New Trust Opportunities in the Northwest

Greg Bowman, Vice President, Finance & Business Development

A directed trust allows a person creating a trust to direct specific duties of the trust to a third party, rather than conferring all authority and duties to a trustee.  Before Washington allowed for this, you would have to go to a trust company in another state to receive this service, such as Delaware or South Dakota.  Now you can have the benefit of a local trust management company who can provide with these services. 

Managing Complex Assets

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Managing a trust is complicated.  Considering the following real-life trust situation where we stepped in to manage a trust that was in disarray.  

Rebuilding With Our Beneficiaries

Stephen Trefts, President

When our hardworking and resourceful trust beneficiary lost everything in the Carlton Complex Fires, we were able to partner with her as she rebuilt her life.

Housing Decisions for Senior Adults

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Where a person lives out the remainder of his or her life is a very important decision. As trustee, we understand that each individual’s needs are different and find the living arrangement that will best meet those needs.

Making Trust Payout Decisions

Stephen Trefts, President

The language of the trust document determines how we make trust payout decision.  This article addresses the nuances of several common distribution types to take into consideration when creating trust documents.

Managing Personal Residence to Meet the Needs of the Beneficiary

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Many of our trusts include the residence of the beneficiary.  The following summary explains how we manage property within our trusts.

Making Discretionary Decisions

Stephen Trefts, President

Discretionary decision making is a big part of being a trustee, and one that effects beneficiaries greatly.  While there is no mechanical formula that can be used, this article identifies certain land marks we look for on the road to the right decision.  

Creating Solid Investment Plans

Stephen Trefts, President

In the face of economic storms, how does a trustee make wise investment decisions? There are several steps we take to create a trust lifeboat in the sea of these turbulent financial times.

Resolving Conflicts

Stephen Trefts, President

Conflicts are a fact of life, but unresolved conflicts can tear families apart.  Our role as trustee is to resolve the disputes fairly and administer the trust impartially.  This article highlights how estate planning decisions can cause conflicts, and how we go about resolving them.

What We Do As: Guardian of the Estate

Being a guardian of the state means protecting the vulnerable.  These articles explain what this means on a practical level. 

Guardianships - The State's Protection for the Unprotected

Stephen Trefts, President

Guardianships provide protection for vulnerable or abused within society.  This article outlines what we do as Guardian of the Estate, and the benefits for our clients.

What we do as Guardian of the Estate

Lavonda Ataid, Trust Officer

Guardianship laws create solid accountability to the court and the incapacitated person. They set a high bar for both professional and non-professional guardians that will ultimately benefit the most vulnerable persons who are depending on us for their care and financial well-being

What We Do In: Estate Settlement

Why Appoint a Professional for Probate and Estate Settlement

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

The task of taking an estate through probate and estate settlement is often more than you might expect.

What We Do As: Agents

Help When You are in Over Your Head - Agency Agreements

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Agreeing to serve as trustee or attorney-in-fact under a Power of Attorney seems like reasonable task when your friend or family member is not incapacitated.  However, the task can easily become a burden when it comes time to make difficult decisions or enter into complicated family dynamics.  An Agency Agreements allows you to remain in control, and at the same time have help with the administrative tasks involved.  

The Benefits of Trusts

Using a Charitable Trust to Meet Your Family Needs

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Charitable trusts are a great way to provide for your family and also leave something for the community.  The story of Maurice shows how this benefits everyone.

Stretching Your IRA Using a Charitable Trust

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

IRA's often form a significant part of most estate plans.  Using a Charitable Remainder Trust can be used to reduce taxes, ensure professionally managed assets during the lifetime of the beneficiary, and ultimately benefit a deserving charity.

Building an Endowment through Planned Giving

Stephen Trefts, President

Planned giving programs are an extremely effective way to help the charitable organizations you are passionate about.  Over the years, it has brought me great satisfaction to witness firsthand the generosity of our clients support their charitable causes well beyond their lifetime.  

Staying in Charge - The Benefits of a Revocable Living Trust

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Losing control over your life or finances can make anyone feel anxious.  Revocable living trusts are a great way plan for the future, and still remain in control of your finances for as long as you are able.  This story of Lowell and Geraldine highlights these benefits.

Trusts for the Benefit of Your Children

Stephen Trefts, President

Trusts for children come in many different forms and can be crafted to meet the needs of each individual child.  Following are examples of the possibilities available to provide for children through proper trust planning. 

Federal Tax Change Announced

Greg Bowman, CEO

Proposed federal tax changes — it's not too late to reassess your estate planning.

The Importance of Estate Planning

Directed Trusts

Greg Bowman, CEO

This article highlights how the increased use of “directed trusts” in the Northwest has provided increased control and flexibility for families while still accomplishing their tax and estate planning goals.  

6 Ways to Start a Family Feud

Stephen Trefts, President

 After many years in the trust and estate management business, we have found that there are several common estate planning errors that will inevitably start a family war when it comes time to implement that plan.

Signs of Financial Exploitation

Stephen Trefts, President

It is heartbreaking to watch the elderly become victim of financial exploitation.  In this article we explore what financial exploitation is, some red flags to identify when it is happening, and how to avoid it.

Using Estate Management to Remedy Financial Exploitation

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

Losing a spouse is hard enough, but becoming a victim of financial exploitation is something no one should have to go through.  This is the story of one of our clients who we helped out of exploitation through a keen-eyed investment advisor.

The Effects of 'Do-It-Yourself" Estate Planning

Sandy Calbreath, Trust Officer

After spending a lifetime building your estate, a “do-it-yourself” attempt at estate planning can result in a legacy of confusion.  This is a brief story of one of our clients who left just such a legacy.

Year-End Estate Planning Crunch — We Can Help!

by Greg Bowman, CEO

Let us help you look good with your clients by helping you guide them through the 2021 estate planning efforts.