Adding a Personal Backup With a Living Trust

A living trust and a professional trustee can give you an emergency backup program for your finances

The managers of well-run businesses usually name “backups” to keep things going smoothly — just in case. That’s also a smart plan for your personal finances, where you risk experiencing financial losses or other difficulties if you can’t make your own decisions because of a long illness or other unexpected problem.

You might prepare for this unhappy possibility by giving a family member or another trusted individual the legal power to act for you if necessary. But what would happen if you made an unsophisticated individual your personal financial backup? You might be more comfortable using what is called a “living trust” — with a professional trustee that could easily step into your financial management role if needed.

Standby Protection

Here’s how a living trust could potentially work. You initially transfer assets into the trust, naming yourself as the trustee. You also name a reliable, experienced trustee as the successor trustee. At that time, you simply continue managing your finances as usual, until the circumstances that you’ve specified in your trust agreement — an illness or extended travel, for instance — prevent it. Then, the successor trustee will take over management of the trust assets for as long as necessary.

Other Advantages

Providing a reliable financial backup is just one advantage a living trust can offer. Another is flexibility. You maintain control of your assets during your lifetime, and are free to make changes anytime. For example, you could give your trustee more or less responsibility, amend the trust’s provisions, or even cancel the trust entirely.

Here’s an additional advantage. Your trust can protect your family after your death by keeping your assets under a professional investment manager’s uninterrupted care. And living trust assets don’t pass through probate. That can make the settlement of your estate easier, faster, and often much less costly.

Eventually, your family or other beneficiaries will receive the trust’s assets on the schedule you’ve arranged and under the conditions you’ve specified. That’s another advantage — the ability to determine what happens to your wealth over the long term. And the terms of the trust are private, unlike the terms of a will that passes through the probate process.

Trial Period

Last, there’s a practical advantage: You can give your future asset management arrangements a test drive. If your trustee manages the trust assets during your lifetime, you’ll be able to decide whether you’re satisfied with the arrangements you’ve made — and with the quality and reliability of the trustee’s services.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.

Required Attribution

Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by DST Systems, Inc. or its sources, neither DST Systems, Inc. nor its sources guarantees the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. In no event shall DST Systems, Inc. be liable for any indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber’s or others’ use of the content.

© 2018 DST Systems, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. Not responsible for any errors or omissions.

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Peter M. Babilla, CFP®, CRPS®

SENIOR WEALTH ADVISOR

Peter Babilla brings 40 years of experience in investment management and fiduciary* financial consulting to Vertex Planning Partners, LLC.

Pete graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance.

He began his career in 1983 with a focus on institutional fixed-income portfolio management, primarily working with community banks. After a decade serving institutional clients, Pete shifted his focus to working with individuals, families and business owners, providing guidance and education in all areas of Wealth Management.  Among his areas of focus are accumulation and retirement planning, investment management, risk management, and estate and wealth transfer.

Pete’s planning philosophy allows him to create a personalized program for clients, based on their own unique goals and circumstances.  The extensive investment and planning platform offered by Vertex enables him to create a highly customized program, tailored to each individual client.

Pete and his wife Suzanne have two children, and have resided in Wheaton, Illinois for the past 30 years.  He enjoys golf, reading, and traveling with his family.  Pete gives back as a past Board Member of the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago, where his focus is on improving the lives of those living with epilepsy.

Pete works as fiduciary for his clients and holds the CERTIFIED FIANANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation and the Chartered Retirement Plan Specialist (CRPS®) designation.

JUSTIN J. D'AGOSTINO, CFP®, CRPC®, AIF®

PRIVATE WEALTH ADVISOR

Justin D’Agostino joined Vertex Partners in 2019 and is a Private Wealth Advisor that serves a select group of business owners and affluent families. He specializes in investments, financial planning, and succession planning. His interest and knowledge in providing comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services to clients was sparked when he worked at a boutique tax and wealth management firm in Michigan. He has nine years of experience in the financial services industry, and his mission is to provide every client with targeted, comprehensive financial advice and to help them implement customized strategies designed to move them closer to accomplishing their unique goals.

Justin attended Hillsdale College where he earned his BA in Accounting and Financial Management and was a member and captain of the football team. Justin is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional, holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™ and Accredited Investment Fiduciary™ designations.

Justin and his fiancé, Alexandra, reside in Chicago, Illinois. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys golfing, playing soccer and spending summer weekends with his family.

Scott A. Sandee CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®, CEPA

MANAGING PARTNER

Scott Sandee brings over 20 years of experience as Managing Partner. He is responsible for leading the firm’s efforts in assisting middle-market business owners and seven and eight-figure families to plan and realize financial goals based on their unique aspirations and situations.

With a privately held family business background, Scott has helped owners prepare for and execute a successful transition. In addition, he works with business owners and their advisors to develop financial strategies to maximize sales proceeds and minimize future taxes.

Before joining Vertex, Scott served in financial planning and investment strategy roles at Oxford Financial Group, Capital Group, and The Northern Trust Company, working with Chicago’s HNW/UHNW families clients.

Scott holds the Certified Financial Planner®, Certified Private Wealth Advisor®, Certified Investment Management Analyst®, and Certified Exit Planning Advisor designations. Scott earned his B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University, and his family resides in Wilmette, IL.

Julie Hupp CFP®, MBA

PARTNER

Julie Hupp, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, has worked in the accounting and corporate finance field since 1987. She began her career as a CPA with Deloitte & Touche, specializing in the financial needs of small businesses. Then spent the next 13 years in corporate financial planning and business development at Baxter and TAP Pharmaceuticals. Recognizing her passion for personal financial planning, Julie started her business in 2006 where she focuses on comprehensive financial planning strategies and implementation.

Julie graduated from University of Illinois with a BS in Accountancy. She received her Master’s in Management with a concentration in Finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 1994.

Outside the office, Julie is the co-founder of the 12 Oaks Foundation, which has merged with Cal’s Angels, and is a former Board member. Julie enjoys cooking, reading, running, triathlons and doing almost anything outdoors. A great weekend is spending time with her husband and two adult kids boating at their lake house in Wisconsin.

Steven P. Franzen, CPA, PFS, CGMA

MANAGING PARTNER

Steven P. Franzen, CPA, PFS, CGMA is a public accountant and consultant with more than 23 years of experience helping individuals and businesses reduce their tax liability.  He began his career under the guidance of Patrick M. De Sio, CPA, CGMA and in 1996 became Mr. De Sio’s partner in De Sio, Franzen & Associates, Ltd. Steve’s expertise include entity design, complex tax strategies and multigenerational wealth transfer.  As Managing Partner, Steve conducts his practice under the philosophy that the client’s investment in their CPA should yield a return on that investment – most of the time that return is realized when working with clients on planning for their future. In an effort to increase the planning capabilities of the firm,  Steve formed Vertex Accounting Partners, LLC to ensure their guiding philosophy will continue well into the future.

Steve is a certified public accountant and has earned the professional designations of Personal Financial Specialist and Chartered Global Management Accountant.  He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society.  Steve earned a B.S. degree in accounting from Millikin University.  He and his wife Kristie live in Sugar Grove, IL with their three children.

Gregory P. Benner, CPWA®, CFP®, CLU®, CHFC®, AIF®, RMA®

MANAGING PARTNER

Gregory P. Benner, CPWA®, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, AIF®, RMA® has over twenty-two years of experience as a financial advisor. Greg’s practice is based on developing holistic financial plans that help his clients integrate sophisticated retirement, tax, risk management and estate planning strategies into an actionable plan, then stay the course as their behavioral coach.

Prior to founding Vertex Planning Partners, LLC, Greg spent four years as a founding partner of a Registered Investment Advisory firm affiliated with LPL Financial. He also spent seven years with JPMorgan Chase as a Senior Financial Advisor and was a Financial Representative with Northwestern Mutual Life.

Greg holds the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designation and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Certificant. He also holds the Chartered Financial Consultant®, Chartered Life Underwriter®, Accredited Investment Fiduciary™, and Retirement Management AdvisorSM designations. He earned a B.S. in Finance from Miami University.

He and his wife Lindsey reside in Naperville, IL with their daughter and twin sons.

Michael D. Bellis, CFP®, CLU®

MANAGING PARTNER

Michael D. Bellis, CFP®, CLU® began his career as a financial planning professional in 1994. His practice is centered on holistic financial planning, astute risk management strategies and empirical, research-driven portfolio construction. He began his career in partnership with his father under the name Bellis & Associates. Together, their practice and reputation for excellence dates back more than 40 years and includes multiple generations of the same families. After his father’s retirement several years ago, Mike continued to build a client-centric, consultative practice before forming Vertex.

Mike holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and is also a Chartered Life Underwriter. He has been an active member of both the Society of Financial Services Professionals and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. He earned a B.S. in Business & Marketing from Illinois State University. Mike is a lifelong resident of Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife Tanja have three children.