The term “fiduciary” means that someone who is a fiduciary has a legal obligation to do what is in another specific person’s best interest. For example, trustees, executors, and agents are fiduciaries. They are acting for the benefit of someone else. The most important factor in selecting a fiduciary for yourself is how much you trust that person because they will be taking care of you and your loved ones if something should happen to you. Fortunately, learning what roles you may need in the future can help you choose the right person to serve as a fiduciary for you.
A trustee administers a trust. A trust is often the center point of a good estate plan because it is often the best strategy to fulfill your goals. Your trustee has the responsibility to manage your assets and distribute them to your loved ones according to your directions if you are incapacitated or you have passed away. Again, you need to select someone whom you trust to act ethically, legally, and morally to provide for your loved ones. They can hire financial professionals to help them with the details, but your trustee is the one with the legal obligation to you and your loved ones.
To make your trustee’s job as easy as possible, you should make your trust as easy to understand as possible so they know what your wishes and goals truly are. You are not around to answer questions, so your trust needs to be clear and address various situations that may arise. Another thing you can do to make your trustee’s job easier is to fully fund your trust-this means to make your trust the owner of your property, which is the only way your trust can do anything. Doing this process while you are alive makes everything run smoother in the long run.
Power of Attorney
A Power of attorney is a document that allow someone to act for you if you are ever incapacitated, which means that you are mentally unable to make those decisions for yourself. There are several kinds of power of attorney, and they each are for different situations. However, the two most common are financial power of attorney and medical power of attorney:
- Financial Power of Attorney. This power of attorney allows someone to take care of you financially if you are incapacitated. this includes paying your mortgage, utilities, open your mail, manage your bank accounts, life insurance, retirement accounts, enter into or terminate contracts, and other powers. Your power of attorney lists an individual you trust to act as your agent.
- Medical Power of Attorney. A Medical Power of Attorney is needed when you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself, such as treatment, prescriptions, surgery, and hiring medical professionals to help you.
If you have a will, you nominate an executor to follow your will’s instructions and distribute your property. Your executor works under the supervision of the courts. If you do not have a funded trust, your executor will retitle your property into your trust. In Colorado, the executor is called “Personal Representative.”
Some people choose an executor who is not going to gain anything from your will to avoid conflicts. You may want to do this if you have a lot of assets or a lot of beneficiaries. Being an executor is a lot of work, so you should be away of what you are asking your executor to do.
An executor needs to be responsible and able to meet deadlines, as the probate process has legal deadlines throughout the process. Your executor would be wise to hire an accountant or lawyer to help during this process to help make sure it goes smoothly. Also be aware of the emotional toll that your passing may be having on your Executor, as that may impact how probate goes.
Choosing your trustee, executor, and powers of attorney is one of the most important decisions in your estate plan, and it can feel overwhelming. An estate planning attorney can help you sift through the requirements and desired attributes these fiduciaries need so you can rest easy, knowing that your estate plan will be administered correctly. Contact The Rains Law Firm or schedule a complimentary initial meeting to talk about these important positions.