"The Advisory Trust Company of Delaware" (TATCO, in this review) is a DBA for the Wilmington Trust Retirement and Institutional Services Company, which provides a wide range of financial services in addition to the administration of personal trusts. TATCO has offices in Wilmington, Delaware, and Phoenix, Arizona. Unfortunately, they seem to have grown so large that they can afford to demonstrate a blatantly contemptuous indifference toward their clients.
All of my dealings were with the Phoenix office, but I believe that the problems I will describe in this review were the result of a "corporate culture," not just shortcomings on the part of the Phoenix staff.
My grandfather had set up a trust for my mother, with myself and my sister Chris as "contingent beneficiaries." The trust was administered by TATCO. According to the terms of the trust, upon my mother's death the trust (stocks and bonds) would be cashed out and the proceeds ("distributions") divided 50-50 between myself and Chris. When my mother passed away in March of 2010, the trust was worth about $180,000, so we could each expect to receive some $90,000.
For me, this would just be a nice bit of additional income. For Chris, however, this 90K was "survival money:" she was caring for a husband with a chronic, degenerative illness (he requires supplemental oxygen 24/7), dealing (as executor) with the expenses of liquidating my late mother's estate (including selling a house in Phoenix in the depressed market of 2010), paying the mortgage on her own house, and coping with other heavy financial burdens.
We submitted our proof of ID and the distribution instructions in July/August of 2010, and settled back to wait for our money. As a general rule, stocks and bonds can be sold in a day or two, and the funds sent via EFT (electronic fund transfer), as we had requested. But, in our case, all we received was silence. By December, Chris began to send emails and make telephone calls to TATCO; these were sometimes answered with "we'll let you know" and sometimes with more silence.
By January, I was concerned enough to request a specific target date from TATCO on which the distributions could be reasonably expected. The Trust Administrator gave me a date of "January 14."
The target date came and went, without an update or apology. Further calls and emails elicited the information that the trust was "in the closing unit," but finding its status apparently involved some sort of "trace" activity, absurd as that may sound in the Age of Computers. In any event, the status was invariably reported as "almost ready."
In February, Chris called the Phoenix office yet again and got an administrative assistant. When asked, "Can you tell me what the status of this trust is?," the AA replied "I don't know," and then called across to her companion at the next desk: "Do you know what the status of the N--- Trust is?" "No," came the answer. Then they both laughed.
At this point, I think, TATCO--represented by their local office--crossed the line from indifference to outright contempt.
I sent an email to the "Contact Us" address on the TATCO website, requesting advice on filing a complaint; this inquiry went unanswered for weeks (a followup complaint, accompanied by the threat of a bad review on SiteJabber, did get a response: an emailed "Call me!" from the Managing Director; but by this time I had lost interest in pursuing my case through company management). An attempt by my own trust attorney to find out what was going on was also ignored.
More than THREE MONTHS after the target date elapsed, Chris did get her half of the distributions. I still have not. Today, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and composed this review.
If you have any valuable property--house, land, stocks and bonds, etc.--and loved ones to whom you wish to leave your property, when you pass away, you should definitely set up a living trust, to save your heirs the delay and expense of going through probate. However, you should obviously find a Trust Administrator somewhere other than TATCO.