Estate Planning and Trust Services

When it comes to estate planning, what's not done is often the biggest mistake made. Whether your assets are large or small, whether you are married or single, or whether you are with or without children, having an estate plan can help you:

  • Minimize estate taxes and court costs.
  • Transfer assets to the beneficiaries of your choice.
  • Make provisions for the appointment of a guardian for your minor children.

Without proper planning, your heirs may end up with far less than you intended. An important element to consider in estate planning is what factors could decrease the size of your estate. At death, estate taxes, as well as any outstanding debts and other expenses you may have can reduce the value of the estate. An estate plan can help ensure that you have enough available cash to cover these costs, so your heirs won't need to liquidate assets to pay them.

An estate plan can also help ensure that property, personal items and assets are divided, according to your wishes. Strategies to help achieve this include utilizing wills, trusts, and establishing charitable giving programs.

Developing a well-designed approach for your estate is a personal process, grounded in the attitudes, beliefs, and traditions that you consider important. Estate Planning is complex, requiring the knowledge of an experienced professional. We can help you protect your heirs for many years to come.

The legacy you leave will depend on the plan you prepare.


Trusts are legal arrangements that can ensure that your assets do just what you want them to do. Too few people realize the benefits that trusts may confer. A trust may be an appropriate solution if you have:

  • Inherited assets
  • Sold a business
  • Received proceeds from a life insurance policy
  • Taken a distribution from a retirement plan

Or if you want to:

  • Protect loved ones and distribute assets according to your wishes
  • Minimize exposure to taxes
  • Preserve a family business
  • Avoid the probate process and protect financial privacy
  • Control the distribution of your wealth and fulfill charitable intentions
  • Provide long-term, consistent asset management

Revocable Living Trusts

A revocable trust allows for the professional management of your assets during your lifetime and following your death. This type of trust often permits your assets to be managed without the need for a court-ordered guardianship if you become incapacitated, and allows your assets to pass to beneficiaries outside of the potentially costly and time-consuming probate process after your death.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust allows for the professional management of your assets and allows you to make gifts to the trust — free of gift tax up to certain limits — so that assets can grow and pass to your beneficiaries without being diminished by estate taxes.

An Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust is established while you are living and may not be changed by you or anyone else. The trust has the ability to transfer assets out of your taxable estate and into the trust, thereby reducing the assets subject to estate taxes. Assets held by the trust will be professionally distributed according to your wishes upon your death and will avoid estate taxes as well as the probate process.

The proceeds of the insurance policy are not included in your estate, and therefore not subject to estate and income taxes. Proceeds of the policy may be excluded from your spouse's estate as well. The trustee can use the proceeds to provide liquidity for your estate, make special payments to your spouse or provide a lifetime stream of income to your spouse.

Endowments, Foundations & Charitable Trusts

Endowments and foundations are organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes. Similar to other trust arrangements, endowments and foundations are created when an individual transfers ownership of property to a trust with another individual or company serving as trustee.

Private foundations are often used to focus the charitable giving of a wealthy family. Numerous members of the family can gift property to the foundation, which invests the gifts and grows the value of its assets for the continued charitable goals of the foundation.

The beneficiaries of a foundation must be charitable organizations. Foundations and endowments may be private or public organizations.

Successor Trustee Services

Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company can serve as trustee, co-trustee, or successor trustee in a wide range of situations, providing services to help you manage, supervise and provide regular reports of investments and their performance, preserve family harmony when carrying out your intentions, and ensuring continuity of stewardship that can endure for generations.