Santa Rosa Attorney for Choice of Fiduciary
In your will or trust, you will appoint executors, guardians, and trustees. These roles are collectively known as "fiduciaries," and have special duties of loyalty to do their jobs in behalf of third persons without conflict of interest.
The most important choice clients make when they create a will, trust or power of attorney is the fiduciary the client chooses. Most often clients choose their children, but the most obvious choice is not always the best choice. Children may not have the time, or the qualifications or neutrality, especially after the stability of the parents is gone.
The word "fiduciary" comes from Latin and implies a relationship of trust. A fiduciary is a person with a duty to another. A fiduciary duty is a duty of loyalty and candor. However, the person you appoint as a fiduciary should also be someone of competence.
I have assisted many people in making a wise choice of fiduciary, and unfortunately have seen many cases of a settlor having made a poor choice of fiduciary.
- The settlor is the person (possibly you) who sets up a trust, with their money or property.
- The beneficiary is the person or (usually charitable) organization intended to benefit from a will or trust.
- A breach of the duty means the fiduciary failed to act in the best interest of the beneficiary.
A breach of fiduciary duty may be found where a trustee or executor acted in his or her own interest instead of the beneficiary's. In families where one member has the authority and duty to handle money or property, this happens often.
Mistakes or carelessness by the fiduciary can also constitute a breach. That is why it is so important to choose someone mature enough, with high integrity, and good relationships with all parties affected by the will or trust. Rivalries or other longstanding emotions between the children may surface after the parents are gone, and the choice of one child as fiduciary may or may not be the best choice. Also, the alternative of choosing all the children as co-fiduciaries may simplify or complicate the intent of the donor parents.
A private fiduciary is a licensed person you may want to consider choosing as your fiduciary. An officer in the trust department at your bank may also be a wise choice.
Family dynamics also come into play. When a family elder passes on and can no longer mediate family relationships, an estate can be complicated and disputed.
With so much on the line, please consult me at Charles D. Stark, Attorney and Counselor at Law. Mine is an experienced and adaptable law practice. I have been rated "Very High" in both legal ability and ethical standards by Martindale-Hubbell.
It is often worthwhile to consider co-trustees, a combination of a family member to assist with the personal decisions with a professional fiduciary to provide stable discharge of fiduciary duties.
If you are considering establishing a financial estate preservation plan, or if you are an administrator seeking help with Sonoma County probate, contact me to schedule a meeting. Successful outcomes start with the right choices about your future. My rates are reasonable, either hourly or by flat-fee, and I accept Visa, Master Card, Discover, and American Express.