We spend a lot of time working with clients so that we can craft a plan that incorporates their values and goals. No matter how exceptional our written plan is, successful administration of the plan is dependent on the people you name to execute it. Many people don’t want to burden their loved ones with this work or struggle to find someone responsible and experienced enough to serve the various roles that need to be filled. You should feel confident that, with the advice and support of your estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and CPA, they’ll be able to get the job done.
Find a Professional
A fiduciary is a type of relationship wherein one person is acting on behalf of another. When you name an Executor/Personal Representative under your Will, an Agent under a Power of Attorney, or a Trustee under a Trust, you’re naming someone to serve as a fiduciary. Whoever you name is fulfilling duties outlined by your estate plan and should always act in your best interest and not their own. Technically, anyone can be a fiduciary – if you named any of your loved ones as a decision-maker in your plan, they’d be a fiduciary. Serving as a fiduciary means abiding by a set of legal responsibilities. If a fiduciary uses their position for their own gain or fails to make an effort to fulfill their duties they may breach their duties, which can incur serious penalties.
Fulfilling all of the important financial responsibilities and obligations outlined in your estate plan isn’t an easy task. If you’re naming someone who doesn’t routinely serve in these roles, choose someone who is organized and ethical, someone you respect and trust. A person who shares your values, who is a good communicator, and who is capable of working with your professional advisors (estate planning attorney, financial advisor, and CPA) can be a successful fiduciary. If you don’t know someone capable of serving or willing to serve, consider naming a professional fiduciary. In the Pacific Northwest, we have numerous, highly skilled, professional fiduciaries available to serve as your representative in various areas of estate planning. Their experience will ensure that your plan is executed as smoothly as possible.
Serving Multiple Roles
You can include professional fiduciaries in various parts of your estate plan. In fact, we recommend you name a single fiduciary as the Successor Trustee of your Trust, Personal Representative (aka Executor) under your Will, and Agent under your Power of Attorney. Professional fiduciaries can be particularly beneficial while your children are young, as the professional fiduciary can manage a long-term trust until the beneficiaries have achieved the financial maturity to serve as their own Trustee. This will ensure that your beneficiaries continue to receive their distributions as you’ve outlined in your trust. You can even incorporate financial mentorship for your children by specifying that they serve as co-trustees for some period of time, learning from your named professional fiduciary and your financial advisor prior to taking on those roles in their entirety.
Whether you’re starting an estate plan for the first time, or need to update an existing plan (possibly to include a new professional fiduciary!), contact White Oak Wills today to schedule your consultation.