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The role a fiduciary plays in managing your estate

When it comes to administering a trust, the responsibility of making decisions regarding it falls on a fiduciary's shoulders if you're unable to render decisions yourself. Fiduciaries are oftentimes lawyers, financial planners, realtors, accountants or mortgage brokers. They're expected to administer your trust with the utmost degree of integrity and fiscal responsibility and in alignment with your wishes and not their own.

During the estate planning process, perhaps one of the most important roles the fiduciary is supposed to fulfill is ensuring that your estate is properly set up to carry out your wishes as intended. The fiduciary may be appointed as your estate's executor or your own personal representative to do this.

The fiduciary may also assume a trustee role if you have a living trust. In that capacity, his or her responsibility is to ensure that no disbursements are made from the trust unless the pre-established conditions are first met.

It's not uncommon for a trust's owner to administer his or her own revocable living trust up until he or she either dies or becomes unable to do so. In situations such as this, though, it is commonplace for a successor trustee to have already been appointed to step in.

A fiduciary may also be called upon to serve as a health care proxy to render medical decisions for you if you're unable to do so yourself. In appointment cases such as this, the fiduciary is charged with following the directions listed in your durable health care power of attorney.

If an attorney is appointed your fiduciary, he or she may also end up serving as your agent when it comes to managing assets that you retain title to. In order for a lawyer to be able to make these decisions on your behalf, you must spell them out in a power of attorney.

Finally, a fiduciary can also be appointed as a guardian, either to minor children or to you, should you become incapacitated. In your will, you can designate that your fiduciary be appointed to provide for your kids if they're orphaned as minors. Also, if your mental faculties diminish, you can appoint this person to manage your affairs on your behalf.

If you'd like to gain a better perspective about the benefits of appointing a fiduciary to manage your estate, then a Melbourne, Florida, trust litigation attorney can provide guidance in your legal matter.

Source: The Balance, "What is a fiduciary?," Julia Garber, accessed Nov. 15, 2017

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