Understanding the Role and Responsibilities of a Fiduciary in Estate Planning

A fiduciary is an individual or institution that acts on your behalf and puts your interests first when making decisions. Unlike other companies that promise to put the customer first, those acting as a fiduciary are legally obligated to do so. There are many different jobs that require people to operate as a fiduciary, including bankers, attorneys, mortgage brokers, financial advisers, and others.

When it comes to estate planning, a fiduciary can fill a number of different roles. They can act on your behalf during the actual estate planning and also after you have passed away. The following are some of the different times when someone would have fiduciary responsibility with your estate planning:

  • Attorney – An attorney is an essential part of estate planning, and must offer sound advice based on your interests.
  • Those with Power of Attorney – If you appoint someone to have power of attorney in some or all situations, they will be operating as a fiduciary.
  • Trustee – Those given the responsibility to manage assets you have placed in a living trust have to perform their duties with your interests in mind. Specifically, they have to follow the guidelines and goals that you have established.
  • Executor – The person or institution identified as the executor of your estate will have to settle the estate according to your wishes (within the confines of the law).
  • Guardian – If you appoint someone as the guardian of your minor child, they need to act with the best interests of your child in mind at all times.

Depending on the details of your estate, you could have one person who is acting in many of these different roles, or a separate individual operating for each of them. Regardless of how these responsibilities are assigned, they will all be acting as a fiduciary. In some cases, someone who doesn’t have legal experience will be named to one of these roles. In this situation, that individual should be given a good explanation of what a fiduciary is, and what legal responsibilities they have.

We’re Here for You

While those operating as a fiduciary must do what is in your best interest, it is still important to choose people who have the experience and training necessary to make wise decisions. Kevin Forrester has been helping people with a wide range of estate planning needs for years, and he will be honored to help you too. Contact us to discuss your situation and learn how we can work with you on all your estate planning needs.

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