Put Your Estate in Good Hands

Friday, November 20, 2015 | 8:36 pm

Choosing the appropriate trustees and agents will be one of the most important decisions you can make in forming your estate plan. These individuals will be responsible for carrying out your wishes in if you become mentally incapacitated during your lifetime and, eventually, upon your death.

Your trustees and agents must act in a fiduciary capacity. A fiduciary is someone who is in charge of managing something that belongs to someone else. Fiduciaries cannot promote their own personal interests above that of the principal, they cannot self-deal, they must be fair and impartial, and they must exercise reasonable care in accomplishing the objectives of the principal or person they are acting for.

The fiduciary standard of care is the highest standard of care that exists under the law. There is no higher standard. Under a fiduciary standard, the fiduciary must place your interests above his or her own.

The key fiduciaries in an estate plan typically include the trustee, the financial agent under a durable financial power of attorney, the health care agent under an advance health care directive, and the guardian, if you have minor children. Each has an important role in managing your estate and protecting your personal well-being.

There is no single factor that makes someone a great fiduciary. If one had to choose three factors or qualities, however, they should be honesty, good judgment and the ability to work well with others. A deficiency in any of these areas, could make for a very troublesome fiduciary.

Aside from these factors, the biggest question is, “Do they want the job?” No one can be forced to accept the position of trustee or agent. It is quite an honor to be considered as someone’s fiduciary. But it is at times a thankless and tedious job. It also involves a certain amount of legal risk.

As mentioned above, the fiduciary must act under the highest standard of care imposed under law. Thus, the persons you are considering must be willing to perform their job, even if the going gets rough or things get hairy. The fiduciary must be willing to act in your best interest in the most difficult of situations.

For more information on choosing the right fiduciary contact Athon Legal. They are located at 14 N Fair Oaks Ave #503, Pasadena. Call (626) 888-9035 or visit www.athlonlegal.com for more details.



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