in … we trust

Who can you trust? No one very much these days.

An acquaintance was recounting her family situation. Her father died a few years ago and left her mother with a comfortable estate. Recently, the children needed some financial information and contacted the trustees – an outside third party in the legal profession. After some surprises and a lot of digging, they realized that the trustees were systematically helping themselves to their money.

There isn’t a happy ending, but there is still money left, though rather less of it. Her father’s will had listed a family friend (another prominent attorney) as a secondary trustee (here the story is short on details), and he has been asked by the children to step in and get some resolution. This is a continuing saga.

However, it raises an interesting question. If you can’t trust your trustee with a legal, professional and moral obligation to perform this service, who can you trust?