A trust company is a corporation, especially acommercial bank, organized to perform the fiduciaryof trusts and agencies. It is normally owned by one of three types of structures: an independent partnership, a bank, or a law firm, each of which specializes in being a trustee of various kinds of trusts and in managing estates. Trust companies are not required to exercise all of the powers that they are granted. Further, the fact that a trust company in one jurisdiction does not perform all of the duties of a trust company in another jurisdiction is irrelevant and does not have any bearing on whether either company is truly a “trust company”. Therefore, it is safe to say that the term “trust company” must not be narrowly construed.
The “trust” name refers to the ability of the institution’s trust department to act as a trustee – someone who administers financial assets on behalf of another. The assets are typically held in the form of a trust, a legal instrument that spells out who the beneficiaries are and what the money can be spent for.
A trustee will manage investments, keep records, manage assets, prepare court accountings, pay bills (depending on the nature of the trust) medical expenses, charitable gifts, inheritances or other distributions of income and principal.