Personal Trust & Estate Planning Services

We partner with individual clients to serve as asset manager over their portfolios, providing day-to-day proactive and strategic wealth management expertise. Clients position our team as their fiduciary advisor for estate and financial planning affairs and as portfolio manager over diverse assets including real estate. We tailor each relationship to address core objectives, concerns and specific planning matters.


  • Estate Planning: Family and personal considerations require an individualized approach to estate planning and a variety of factors must be carefully weighed. Planning is essential to provide for the intended disposition of your assets, to prepare for your family’s financial security, to secure necessary asset management for your beneficiaries and to save on estate settlement costs and taxes. Our trust personnel will be happy to assist you in implementing an estate plan suitable to your situation.
  • Administration of Trusts: Bell State Bank & Trust is an excellent choice to serve as trustee if you are considering a living trust or testamentary trust. We can also serve as back-up or co-trustee for others named as trustee.
    A living trust is a document that allows your wishes to be carried out. It can also provide for:
    -Lower estate settlement costs
    -Avoidance of a delay in distribution
    -Assurance of privacy of distribution of assets at death
    -Tax benefits
  • Investment management of clients’ securities, real estate and unique assets in “quarterback” role
  • Serve as asset manager in either agency (no trust document involved) or trust structure (with trust document)
  • Business succession guidance, estate planning review and effective coordination with clients’ legal and tax advisors; our team does not replace clients’ existing advisors, but rather serves as fiduciary advisors
  • Custom financial planning for sufficient income and cash flow management, wealth preservation and distribution planning

Provide a secure future for yourself, your family and the charities that matter to you by working with Bell State Bank & Trust’s personal trust services team. By working with you to plan for your estate, solidify business succession or set up various types of trust accounts, our professionals help you provide a legacy that protects your family and beneficiaries after you are gone.

Relationship Structures You Can Use to Plan for the Future

Trusts and fiduciary relationships are remarkable tools that work within your personal financial plan to facilitate tax savings, asset protection, financial security and preservation of family relationships. Bell State Bank & Trust serves as fiduciary for a variety of relationships, each of which guards your legacy in a different way:

  • Revocable living trust – may be changed or terminated by those who create it or by someone else
  • Irrevocable living trust – cannot be revoked or terminated by the person who establishes the trust or transfers property to it
  • Agency account – remains the property of the owner, rather than the trust institution
  • Conservatorship – established to care for the property of an incapacitated person
  • Custodial account – managed only to safeguard and care for the property
  • Retirement account – established by employers to provide employees with retirement income
  • Self-directed IRA – directed by the owner to purchase and hold assets
  • Managed IRA – directed by our wealth management division who integrates the IRA into an overall strategy
  • Estate settlement – administration and distribution of an estate’s assets to beneficiaries

Choosing Your Personal Representative

By Nicki Kungel, Trust Officer, Bell State Bank & Trust

As you look for ways to improve the financial outlook for your family, give extra attention to your choice of who will serve as your personal representative in your last will and testament.

In theory, the fee for administering and settling an estate should be tied to the responsibilities of the job, not to the individual who performs the job (assuming comparable skills and expertise of the individuals). But what about the real cost, outside of the fee that is paid?

Banks and trust companies, generally referred to as corporate fiduciaries, often point out that it can be “cost-effective” to engage their services to settle an estate. Is this true? Most people assume that the estate administration and settlement costs will be much cheaper because family members either waive charging fees or charge minimal amounts for their services. However, if a family member has to hire various professionals and advisors to guide the process of settlement of the estate, it may be more expensive for the family member than for a corporate fiduciary to administer the estate.

Why do so many people choose to have our wealth management team handle the administration and settlement of their estates? Is it simply because they are reluctant to burden a family member with the complex, often thankless task of administering even a moderate-sized estate?

While this consideration is a significant factor, there is more to the decision than not wanting to impose the tasks on a family member. The choice to designate a team of specialized estate settlement professionals to handle the administration of an estate is usually not only considerate, it is also cost conscious. By naming Bell State Bank & Trust as the corporate fiduciary personal representative in their wills, our clients guard against the hidden costs that so often emerge when a relative or friend, however well-intentioned, actually confronts the diverse tasks of estate settlement.

The Cost of Part-Time Attention

Rarely can family members drop everything in their busy lives in order to concentrate on settling the estate. What will happen if the individual personal representative is ill or traveling on business when critical decisions must be made? With a part-time personal representative, there is real risk of costly delays in safeguarding assets, evaluating claims, meeting tax deadlines, and a wide range of other actions that may be left hanging and may result in financial damage to the estate.

The Cost of Inexperience

A personal representative who has specific knowledge of the estate tax laws will be able to identify potential tax problems and take advantage of savings opportunities, which could result in significant tax reductions. A team of fiduciary and investment management professionals is much better equipped to provide the expertise for strategic and cost-effective estate administration.

A first-time personal representative will gain a fair amount of knowledge as the estate is settled, but in this learning context, experience is a costly teacher. There is danger for estate erosion in situations where the individual Personal Representative is the surviving spouse of the decedent, and the surviving spouse was not informed about his or her spouse’s business and financial dealings. Unscrupulous people also can trigger costly damage to an estate through manipulation of the personal representative before their deceit is detected.

The Cost of Specialized Assistance

Generally, a first-time personal representative realizes within a short period of time that he or she cannot handle the entire job of administering the decedent’s estate without assistance. People that are engaged by the personal representative charge fees (for example, for tax preparation, investment advice or real estate management), and correspondingly, the real cost of estate settlement rises.

What Can You Afford?

As an investment management and trust institution with highly capable and skilled professionals, our team has the wide range of skills and resources needed to settle an estate in a smooth and efficient manner. Equally important, our team coordinates these resources effectively with family members and provides valuable communication regarding the estate administration process. As a result, we are able to plan ahead, anticipate problems, and spot cost-savings opportunities. For example, our special attention to tax planning can sometimes produce savings to the estate, and ultimately to the beneficiaries, that more than cover the fees that we receive for our services.

Many people recognize the true economy of naming our team as personal representative or co-personal representative. What about your personal and your family estate planning situation? Have you postponed talking with an estate planning advisor or with one of our trust officers at Bell State Bank & Trust until your net worth rises to a certain level? Have you felt that you probably could not afford our services for your family? If so, we encourage you to contact our trust and investment management team to learn more about our estate-settlement services. You may find that your family cannot afford to do without the valuable benefits.

Bell State Bank & Trust will work closely with you and your attorney, accountant and other advisors to ensure that you maintain control over your assets while also minimizing tax implications. We help simplify what may seem overwhelming into a manageable process.

Contact a personal trust professional:



Dick Brudvik





Mary Locken





Stephanie Strand



Learn more about the Bell State Bank & Trust personal trust professionals.


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