Sunday, January 15, 2006

For safety's sake, choose a corporate trustee

Corporate trustees may not be perfect, but more than $1 trillion has been entrusted to their care for good reason.

Corporate safeguards protect trust funds from the temptations to which the flesh is heir to. And if these safeguards fail, the corporate entity usually has the resources to replace what its employee stole.

Here's a case, chronicled in The New York Times, where a “disinguished” individual trustee succumbed to temptation to the tune of $400,000.
Until 2001, [Roland] Amundson, 56, was a highly regarded judge who sat on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, the state's second-highest court.

Mentioned in legal circles as a likely nominee to the State Supreme Court, he was a popular public speaker, served on charitable boards in Minneapolis, and seemed to know everyone. Colleagues described him as brilliant and charming.

Then he was caught taking $400,000 from a trust fund he oversaw for a woman with the mental capacity of a 3-year-old, money he spent on marble floors and a piano for his house as well as model trains, sculpture and china service for 80, all bought on eBay.

Admundson is due to be released from confinement almost two years early. Not everyone thinks that's a good idea:

“‘I don't think he feels like he did anything wrong,’ said Karen Dove, a guardian for Mr. Amundson's victim.”

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