Trust Funds are an especially susceptible vehicle for fraud committed by FINRA registered stock brokers and financial advisors. Two of the primary issues in such cases are “conflict of interest” and “breach of fiduciary duty.”
Trust funds can be created for a wide variety of reasons. Frequently, though, they are used as a means to afford an orderly transfer of wealth to a younger generation. They can offer a whole host of benefits that would make a trust fund the preferred choice over an outright gift. For example, the recipient/beneficiary may be very young, and the trust could afford some level of control or stability to prevent the beneficiary from squandering the money. Another reason may be certain tax advantages offered by the trust structure that would not be available in an outright give.
Regardless of the reason or reasons for its creation, a trust is going to need a trustee. The trustee is the party responsible for overseeing the trust and managing its assets. While trusts can hold different types of assets, they frequently contain securities, like as stocks and bonds. Therefore, such trusts would, by necessity, involve brokerage accounts. In that case, clients will oftentimes look to their stockbroker/financial advisor to put on a “second hat” and serve as trustee. The logic being “I already trust him/her with my money so why not let them be the trustee.” However, this is where significant problems can be created.