HOW COULD I HIRE A FIDUCIARY AND WHY WOULD I HIRE ONE?
Yes, a Fiduciary can be hired for the care of a person, their finances, or both. Perhaps you are getting older and do not want your care to burden your children. A fiduciary can free you to enjoy your children, and have your health care and finances managed by a professional. You could appoint a fiduciary as Administrator of your Will, or Successor Trustee of your trust, and know that your affairs will be taken care of by an expert, your wishes will be followed, and your beneficiaries won’t experience undue hardship or conflict with one another.
Services available are:
Trustee, Successor Trustee in a Trust
Special Needs Trust Trustee
Executor of a Will
Case Management (coordinating care)
Power of Attorney, Health Care or Finance
WHAT IS ENTAILED IN THE ROLES OF CONSERVATOR, ADMINISTRATOR AND TRUSTEE?
1. CONSERVATOR of a person and/or a person’s finances (estate).
A Conservator of the Person is either appointed by the court or hired privately to oversee an adult person’s care, in cases of incapacity (such as dementia). In this role, they become the person’s advocate, surrogate decision-maker, and coordinator/monitor of services.
A Conservator of the Estate is also either appointed by the court or hired privately to oversee an adult person’s finances. In this role, they become the person’s financial coordinator through ensuring the person receives all their income due, paying their bills, having their taxes done, managing their money and investments—such that this person’s ongoing care needs are met. In this role, the Fiduciary coordinates experts such as financial advisors, tax accountants, lawyers, etc.
If court appointed, the court would usually appoint the same Fiduciary to oversee both Conservatorship of the Person and the Estate. If a Conservator is appointed by the court, the court oversees and supervisors this work closely, requiring regular audits of the finances, sending representatives to periodically check on the person at their residence, etc.
A Guardian is appointed to oversee the care of a person under 18.
2. ADMINISTRATOR of a person’s Will when they pass away.
A Fiduciary can be named in a Will, or appointed by the Probate court to be the Administrator (aka Executor, Personal Representative). Upon death, the Fiduciary would do an Appraisal and Inventory that is submitted to the Probate referee for appraisal. Then the Fiduciary would coordinate the care, financial obligations (such as last taxes), liquidation of the estate and disbursement of gifts to beneficiaries, under the Probate court’s supervision.
3. TRUSTEE of a trust while a person is alive, after they have passed away, or on behalf of a loved one.
A Fiduciary can be named successor trustee in a living trust, in the event of incapacity or death. Or perhaps a loved one needs a trust supervised and income dispersed on their behalf, then the Fiduciary is a good choice for ongoing trustee.
WHO SETS UP A FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP?
A Fiduciary can be appointed by the court and/or named in your estate documents.
WHAT WOULD KEEP A FIDUCIARY FROM TAKING OFF WITH THE MONEY?
In a court appointed Conservatorship of Estate or Trustee of an Estate, the court requires the Conservator/Trustee to secure a bond for the amount of the estate the Conservator would have control over. For a private Trustee relationship, the trust can dictate whether the Trustee is covered by a bond. If the Fiduciary is negligent with the client’s funds, or worse, steals these funds, the bond company pays the estate for the amount of money covered in the bond. Then the bond company pursues recouping their losses from the Fiduciary’s personal assets. The cost of a bond is charged to the trust or estate, so if not court required, some people do not require a bond, trusting that the fiduciary would not steal money, as they would lose their license, face persecution, etc. The fiduciary would submit an accounting and brokerage statements to beneficiaries for accountability.
MY NEIGHBOR/FRIEND/FAMILY MEMBER NEEDS HELP, WHAT CAN I DO?
Any interested person can petition the court on behalf of a vulnerable person. For example, you might notice that your neighbor is suffering dementia and is no longer able to handle his/her own care, house, or finances. You can contact Stephanie Allen and meet to assess the situation. She can work with you to find a lawyer so you can petition the court. This is especially needed in cases where an elderly person is on his/her own and declining in capacity, which makes him/her vulnerable to elder neglect, abuse, or financial exploitation.