Tennessee Bankers

Tracking trust legislation in Tennessee

By Amy Heaslet, Executive Vice President/ General Counsel, Tennessee Bankers Association

When I began working at the Tennessee Bankers Association, one of my primary roles was advocating for our member banks at the legislature. Over the years that has remained a focus, while evolving to increased emphasis on enhancing the state’s trust laws and the benefits that could bring to TBA’s trust company members, our member banks, and their customers.

The TBA has always been committed to providing first-in-class advocacy and professional development resources to our trust members and banks with trust operations. These efforts accelerated in recent years thanks to Commissioner Greg Gonzales and Governor Bill Haslam’s recognition of the importance and potential economic impact of establishing Tennessee as a leading trust jurisdiction.

Amy Heaslet, TDFI Commissioner Greg Gonzales, and 2018 trust committee chairman Jamie Nicholson at this year's Trust & Wealth Management Conference.

In 2013, TBA, in partnership with some of the best trust legal experts in the state and TDFI, passed comprehensive legislation that updated our trust laws and made Tennessee one of the top five trust jurisdictions. Today, Tennessee remains in the top five in many areas of trust law, and it is fair to say we’ve established ourselves as one of the preeminent jurisdictions for trusts. But in order to remain a leader, we must continually reflect on our laws, compare them to other leading states, and see where we can improve.

That is exactly what we are doing. In early October, TBA formed a working committee of trust experts from banks, trust companies and law firms and had the first of a series of meetings to discuss how our laws can be improved and remain competitive. It was clear there is work that can be done—ranging from technical corrections to clarify areas of uncertainty or concern to implementing new innovative solutions to better serve the needs of settlors and beneficiaries.

Although still in process, we expect to bring legislation in 2019 to achieve this. I’m excited about the opportunity to improve our trust laws and increase the trust business coming into the state for our members.

We’re already seeing the positive impact of past legislative efforts with new trust companies opening for business in Tennessee and existing trust companies attracting more out- of-state business than ever before. This will only continue as we improve our laws with the goal of remaining one of the leading trust jurisdictions in the country.

In addition to advocacy, we also strive to provide the best possible professional development resources for trust officers across the state. TBA’s premiere event for trust members is the Trust and Wealth Management Conference. In collaboration with TBA’s Trust Committee, the association hosts the annual conference at its headquarters, attracting industry-leading speakers who educate and promote the trust industry to attendees.

This year’s conference, held October 18-19 and chaired by Jamie Nicholson with Synovus Family Asset Management in Nashville, was a tremendous success. The nearly 100 attendees received briefings from industry leading experts on federal legislative and regulatory initiatives, how to recognize signs of financial exploitation in clients, how to work with high net worth families, and research on and ways to preserve illiquid assets’ value.

If you work in trust or estate planning and have not attended the annual conference, I encourage you to mark your calendars now for next year’s event—October 17-18, 2019.

In the meantime, please consider the TBA as your primary resource when it comes to the area of trust services in your institution. And if you come across a state law that impedes you from serving your customers at the highest level, whether in trust or commercial banking, pass that information along to TBA so that we can review whether a legislative change is appropriate.