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For those unfamiliar with your company, what does Cumberland Trust specialize in/offer? 

Cumberland Trust is an independent trust company committed to following the wealth transfer plans of our clients to help protect their family legacy. We specialize in trust and estate administration services to bring peace-of-mind to clients. 

Unlike a traditional bank trustee model, Cumberland operates as a directed trustee and does not handle the investment of the client's assets. We collaborate with the client's financial and legal advisors, which fosters creative and flexible teamwork, not a one-size-fits-all approach. We serve as a team member with the client's other professional advisors (attorney, financial advisor, CPA), focusing on our areas of expertise, trust and estate administration.

What sets you apart from others in your field, particularly for seniors?  

Since we are focused solely on trust and estate administration (not investment management), we can prioritize client service above all else. We operate as a directed trustee, which is a benefit of Tennessee's trust-friendly legislation. Our directed trustee model allows the beneficiaries to appoint a financial advisor or other asset manager to make investment decisions regarding the trust assets, while Cumberland performs all trust administration functions. We recognize the value of separating the roles of asset management and fiduciary services and the benefit of allowing families to continue to work with their long-standing financial, legal, and tax advisors. This team of experts works together to provide the beneficiary the care and expertise that ensures optimal management and administration of the trust. 

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Jean Jackson

We professionally and compassionately navigate family dynamics–from aging concerns, to blended families, to those living with illness or a disability. Further, we have a low trust officer to account ratio, which means that our trust officers have the time and capacity to give attention to each beneficiary and task at hand. 

We have a dedicated team for senior care and those needing extra assistance. This team helps to coordinate a full range of tailored services to provide support and stability to beneficiaries with unique needs. Some of our clients, for example, are seniors whose grown children have moved away from home. Often in these long-distance family situations, the children are not able to help their aging parents day-to-day. For families in these situations, or similarly for seniors without children, it often makes sense to have us step in as a co-trustee, serving alongside the senior individual or couple. This allows us to get to know the family and share in the responsibility of trusteeship. In addition to the standard trust administration services, for seniors we frequently assist with bill pay or help to coordinate caregiving or a move to an assisted-living or a continuing-care retirement community. We work with the family and get to know them. As a result, future transitions are easier for the family when life changes do happen.

What can a client/family expect when they first contact your group for services/assistance? (Briefly describe a typical experience).

This will depend on where the client/family is in the planning process. If they are just beginning plans for the future or working on establishing an estate plan, we will talk with them about their needs and our services. We often meet with the client so they can get to know our team. If we know a client is considering us for the future, we like to know basic family tree information, dates of birth, asset details, and contact information. We also like to have an electronic copy of their estate documents on file. 

If they have their estate plan in place and/or are updating their plan with a need for services now, we will review their needs, documents, and assets so we can begin to step in and serve. We see many clients who want to change trustees. Maybe they are not receiving the best service from their current trustee or would like to use their personal financial advisor to manage their trust assets. Sometimes, an individual has been serving as trustee and he or she no longer has the time or ability to do so. We will work with the client's attorney and financial advisor to help coordinate the transfer process on behalf of the trust beneficiaries to reduce any potential burden on the family. We strive to make the trust transfer process as easy and seamless as possible for the beneficiaries and are committed to keeping close contact with our clients.

If you had to describe Cumberland Trust in one word or phrase, what would it be and why?

Client-focused. We are designed to deliver a high level of service, being both responsive to client needs and working closely with professional advisors. Our trust officers develop long-term relationships with our clients and are committed and caring in addressing their needs.

Where are your office(s) located in Chattanooga?

In the Republic Centre, at 633 Chestnut Street, downtown Chattanooga. We are also glad to arrange to meet clients at a location that is convenient for them.

What's the best way for potential readers to learn more/get started?

Call us for information and/or to arrange an office visit; visit our website (www.cumberlandtrust.com) to learn more about Cumberland Trust services, our teams, and general information about trusts and estate administration. (Jean Jackson contact information: 423-664-9747 and jjackson@cumberlandtrust.com)

When do you advise folks look at what you offer and get the ball rolling (this may vary from product/service, and if so, please share a few top points)? 

Now! The first step is really to begin your estate plan and get your documents in place and/or updated. It is wise to review your documents annually to make sure your plan still aligns with your wishes and values. Even if you do not feel that anything has changed, tax laws or other laws that might govern your estate may have changed. Other events, such as moving to another state, changes to family dynamics, or changes to assets and liabilities could also affect your plan. If your documents are over three years old, review them with your attorney. Having a plan in place that reflects your wishes and knowing that you are protecting your family's legacy can provide peace of mind.

How can someone get started with their planning? What's the first step? 

The first step is to begin an estate planning conversation with, in the case of a couple, each other; and then the family's/individual's attorney and financial advisor. 

A complete estate plan usually includes documents such as:

Revocable Trust and/or Last Will and Testament

Living Will (end of life care decision-making)

Durable Health Care Power of Attorney (medical decision-making)

Durable Financial Power of Attorney (asset and financial management decision-making) 

The family or individual will primarily work with the attorney and investment advisor for the planning process, but we are frequently involved as well. When planning, it can be helpful to sit down with us and get to know us, that way the family and/or individual feels comfortable with the team who will carry out their legacy plan.

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