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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

What is a fiduciary? | Estate planning lawyers in Sacramento

March 17, 2011

It’s bad enough that you have to think about death when planning your estate, but what’s worse are all of these hardly-pronounceable words of which you have no idea what they mean. Beneficiary? Fiduciary? Revocable Living Trusts?

What does it all mean?!

In order to focus on living your life and breathing easier, do yourself one favor: tackle the weird words, find out what they mean and how they apply to your after-death plan.

The Sacramento estate planning lawyers at The Chubb Law Firm can help. Let’s tackle the f-word first. Fiduciary.

A fiduciary is the person you put in charge of handling your estate after you’re gone or making financial or healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated. So at its core, a fiduciary is a person to whom property or power is entrusted for the benefit of another. Your fiduciary will be called different names depending which legal document gives them authority. Executor, trustee and agent are all terms for a fiduciary.

What many people don’t know is that the responsibility goes way beyond making sure that your will is carried out, which is why you should choose your fiduciary wisely (don’t worry – we’ll get to that in our next blog).

Here are just a few of the responsibilities the fiduciary may carry out:

  • Making primary decisions on all things related to your estate. This includes carrying out all of your wishes according to your Last Will and Testament, and reporting your death to the probate court.
  • Making medical decisions on your behalf if you are deemed incapacitated. What is dictated in your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare or Medical Power of Attorney, is what this person will follow. Oftentimes it is carrying out your wishes to be taken off or left on life support.
  • Also in the event of your incapacity your fiduciary will oversee and care for your assets, including your house, accounts, cars, boats, jewelry, collectibles, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and any businesses you own.

As you can see, the role of fiduciary is a heavy task and one that should not be taken lightly. They must be held to certain standards to ensure that your wishes are carried out, and in our next blog, the estate planning lawyers at The Chubb Law Firm will give tips on choosing the right fiduciary for your estate. If you have questions in the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us at (916) 241-9661 to schedule a free consultation.

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My wife and I have some quite large complexities both in our individual preferences and the construct of our life. When planning for our trust, Heather took the time to hear EVERYTHING we said. The trust which Heather formed for our family took all our concerns into account. When everything was said and done, we received a trust which, by design, is extremely personal to our circumstance. We also are delighted to have Heather to be part of our team of advocates to help when the time comes.

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