During estate planning or when you write a will, you can grant a person (fiduciary) certain responsibilities – an executor, trustees, and guardians are all examples. Fiduciaries have a significant role in the management of your estate. As such, it is important that these roles be filled by people who can manage their responsibilities so that your wishes as explained in the will or trust are carried out properly and to the letter of the law.
The Role of a Fiduciary
For the most part, a fiduciary role will include financial matters and or medical matters. When you choose a fiduciary whose role is more to manage the medical responsibilities of someone, either yourself, a spouse, or a child, you want to make sure that they have the background to fulfill their role.
- The ability to understand medical professionals, and modern healthcare, and to communicate with social agencies, such as discharge planners, doctors, and care providers.
- The ability to manage the plan of care as it applies to the trust or will, including durable powers of attorney and other medical/legal documents.
- They also need to understand the difference between managed care, emergency treatment, and end-of-life care. Those are all three aspects of medical care.
- They need to be able to handle family members who may wish for different forms of medical care than are covered in the will or trust. An example is being willing to end life support when the time comes and being able to say no to family, medical staff, and other people.
- When the fiduciary is managing an adult who is disabled, such as someone with severe autism, then they also need to be able to manage that person through communication and monitoring so that their needs are met.
When the role of a fiduciary involves financial responsibilities the fiduciary will need to be able to:
- Manage money and cash flow so that they can pay bills, cover medical expenses, and handle investments.
- Manage stocks and portfolios so that the balance of a trust remains healthy, and the equity is properly managed either as part of the trust, income for beneficiaries, or for investments.
- Understand and handle taxation and changes to tax laws as they apply to the trust, will, or guardianship.
- Handle beneficiaries who may want something different from what the will or trust provides. Also, to work with laws regarding people who are not named in the will or who contest the will or trust.
There are a lot of reasons why a professional fiduciary or estate planning lawyer can be a good asset to estate planning in California. The role of a medical or financial fiduciary, which can sometimes include both aspects, can also be complex and dynamic. Tax laws, for example, change often and so do the laws that define medical care and responsibility.
Contact Charles D. Stark Attorney & Counselor At Law For More Information About Estate Planning
Charles D. Stark is an attorney who serves the greater Sonoma County community with estate planning services. The complexity of the responsibilities of a fiduciary is something that can be discussed throughout the estate planning process and the outcome can change as needed. Reach out to Charles Stark to discover your options for planning and managing your estate.