Estate Planning: How to Choose Your Fiduciary

During the estate planning process, there are several important decisions that you will need to make. For example, you will need to take stock of your assets and determine how you would like to distribute them after you pass away. However, another important decision that you will need to make revolves around who you would like to serve as your fiduciary. But what exactly is a fiduciary and what is the best way to select one?

What is a Fiduciary?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that the word “fiduciary” will be used a lot throughout your estate plan. Depending on what is going on at the time, the role of the fiduciary will change. For instance, if you are still alive, however, you aren’t able to make financial decisions for yourself, your Financial Power of Attorney can serve as your financial fiduciary during this period of time. When you pass away, however, an individual that you appoint will step up as the fiduciary of your estate.

What are the Responsibilities of a Fiduciary?

The responsibilities of a fiduciary will change depending on what type of role you’re serving in. For instance, if you’re serving as a financial fiduciary when an individual is still alive, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the finances of that individual are used in a way that protects and benefits that individual. However, if that person passes away and you have become the fiduciary of the estate, it’s now your responsibility to ensure that the wishes of that individual are seen to as you marshal and distribute different assets of the estate.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Fiduciary

Although you may have some type of an indication as to who you would like to choose as your fiduciary, there are always a series of questions that you should ask yourself before you make this important decision. Here are a few examples:

• Is the person I want to name a person I can trust?
Trust is key when it comes to selecting a fiduciary. In cases of a married couple, the spouses will often choose each other as their fiduciary. However, what happens when that is not a factor? Taking the time to think about the trustworthiness and the responsibility level of the person that you want to appoint is critically important.

• Is this person at a point in their life when they can manage this responsibility?
Although you may have a special person in mind that you would like to serve as your beneficiary, it’s possible that because of something going on in their life, they may not be able to serve in this role. For example, if the person that you are thinking about doesn’t have certain organizational skills, it could throw your estate plan into chaos. Both during your life as well as after, it’s important that your fiduciary remain organized so that they can ensure that your needs are met and that your estate is distributed efficiently and according to your wishes.

Of course, there are several other questions that you should ask yourself when naming a fiduciary. These specific details are something that our estate planning team will review with you during your consultation.

Develop Your Estate Plan Today

If you find yourself struggling with to pick the right fiduciary for your estate or you would like to review your estate plan, we recommend that you get in touch with our office right away. We offer a personalized touch to estate planning and can help you to make these seemingly challenging decisions. To schedule your consultation, get in touch with us.