“Fiduciary” is a term that describes a relationship of trust between two parties. This position of trust gives the fiduciary the ability to act on behalf of the other party. Your attorney for example, would act in a fiduciary capacity while representing you in court. Likewise, the person or persons who manage your retirement plan and its many investments are also acting in a fiduciary capacity.
In the world of estate planning, there are a number of areas where you will designate a fiduciary. Here’s a few of the more common fiduciaries:
- Personal Representative/Executor – This person will look after your Estate in accordance with the wishes you’ve expressed in your Will. You can appoint an institution, bank, trust company or one or more individuals for this purpose.
- Trustee – If you set up a Living Trust or some other type of Trust then you would appoint individuals and/or an institution as Trustees to handle the assets of the Trust in the event of your death or disability.
- Healthcare Agent – This type of fiduciary will take medical decisions on your behalf and in accordance to your wishes listed in your Advance Medical Directive. A Healthcare Agent has to be a person and not an institution.
- Attorney in Fact- This agent will manage assets that are titled specifically and individually in your name. You can appoint a bank, trust company or individuals as this type of fiduciary.
- Guardian for Minor Children – This fiduciary will look after your minor children if you die or become incapacitated.
When you meet with your estate planning attorney, be prepared to discuss who would meet the appropriate criteria for each of these fiduciary positions. No doubt, your attorney can assist you in making those choices, but the final decision must always be you.