What is a Personal Fiduciary?
Loyalty, trust and good faith diligence are just a few hallmarks of a reliable personal fiduciary
What exactly is a personal fiduciary and how can it help me? This is an important question that you must ask yourself as you begin the estate planning process. Estate plans can be complex and require assistance from a skilled attorney to ensure that your assets and best interests are fully protected. The term personal fiduciary can apply to many different scenarios. The first step in understanding what a personal fiduciary is involves evaluating what fiduciary means and the specific responsibilities that must be honored when a fiduciary duty exists.
Merriam-Webster defines a fiduciary relationship as “a relationship in which one party places special trust, confidence, and reliance in and is influenced by another who has a fiduciary duty to act for the benefit of the party.” The most common fiduciary relationships exist between attorneys and their clients, financial institutions and their customers and corporations and their stockholders. Simply stated, in regards to estate planning, a personal fiduciary can be either an individual or a bank that assumes a duty of loyalty, trust and diligence, among others, to act on behalf of an individual. During the process of creating a will, you must appoint a personal representative to act as the executor of your estate. This person assumes a fiduciary duty to administer your estate and ensure that your assets are distributed according to the terms of your will. If you establish a trust, the trustee also has a fiduciary duty to faithfully manage and carry out the terms of the trust.
If a personal representative or trustee breaches their fiduciary duty, they may be liable to your beneficiaries. Probate and trust litigation are often based on very contentious conflicts and lead to lengthy and costly legal battles that tie up your estate for many years. It is important to evaluate all of your options and develop a solid estate plan that eliminates ambiguity. Choosing the right personal fiduciary, whether for a trust, will or any other estate planning tool, is vital to protecting the best interest of both you and your loved ones.
At Kitroser, Lewis & Mighdoll, our highly skilled North Palm Beach estate planning attorneys have the experience and resources you need to understand your options and make the right choices. To schedule a consultation at our North Palm Beach office, call 561-721-0600 or send a confidential email today.