Former trust officer finds estate work 'fascinating'

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

When one door closed, Carol Cerwin shoved another door wide open.

After her position as senior vice president and trust officer at a bank was eliminated in a take-over, Cerwin parlayed more than 35 years experience at banks, law and accounting firms in the Detroit tri-county area into a new venture, Cerwin Consulting LLC, offering services in estate administration to attorneys.

“Many attorneys in this current economy aren’t able to maintain full time staff to assist them with their work,” she says. “My business offers them the ability to utilize a highly experienced person to assist them on an as-needed basis without the overhead associated with a full time employee.”

A member of the Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit, Cerwin offers expertise in estate planning, estate settlement, trust administration, estate tax return preparation and Crummey compliance. “I find this work fascinating, since you’re dealing with family situations and with what people own,” she says. “I love working with people, and every estate presents something new for me to learn.

“I’m very excited at this chance to develop my own business to work with attorneys who I feel offer an important service to their clients. Having worked on both the planning side and on the administration side, I’ve seen how beneficial it is for clients to have a properly drafted and funded estate plan to make the estate settlement process easier for their families.”

A Certified Trust and Financial Advisor with a bachelor’s degree in business administration/finance and an associate’s degree in paralegal technology from Macomb County Community College, Cerwin previously worked for Talmer Bank and Trust; Plante Moran Trust and Plante & Moran; Comerica Bank; Miro Weiner & Kramer; Evans & Luptak; McInally, Rockwell, Brucker, Newcombe & Wilke; and Hinks, Knight & Putnam. “My career path into banking just evolved — I happened to see an advertisement for a position with Comerica Bank and thought there might be more
opportunities for advancement at a bank rather than in a law firm.”

Based in Grosse Pointe Farms but serving a wide geographic area, Cerwin will prepare summaries of estate plan documents, proofread documents, set up inventory of assets, re-title assets into trust names, provide Crummey compliance assistance, serve as a witness and/or notary, and more, and will provide bill paying services.

She also offers estate settlement and trust administration services.

While Cerwin is an affiliate member of the State Bar of Michigan, her company is not a law firm and cannot provide legal representation or advice, appear in court on behalf of a client or establish the attorney-client relationship; and lawyers must agree to supervise and review her work.

In her spare time, Cerwin supports the Michigan Humane Society and she and her hound dog Daisy — an MHS adoptee — walk in the Michigan Humane Society Mutt March fund-raiser each spring. 

She also enjoys reading novels, gardening — her previous house was on the 2000 Grosse Pointe Garden Tour — and is a world traveler with a passion for cruise trips.