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In what specific roles do fiduciaries serve?

Fiduciaries serve by court appointment as estate trustees, court-appointed committee(s) or conservatorship(s), guardians, and/or personal representatives of estates. They also serve by agreement as estate trustees and/or agents under powers of attorney.  Additionally, they may serve in any capacity of the estate's trust assets, such as property manager and/or business manager.

Who monitors fiduciaries?

Fiduciaries are governed by state or provincial statute. Each county or province has a probate court as part of its (superior) court system. While court-supervised matters have an extra layer of protection, all fiduciary accounts are protected by state or provincial licensing by way of their respective probate code.  Additionally, any fiduciary who is a member of any organization is held in accordance with those bylaws and ethics codes.

How do you select a qualified fiduciary?

Fiduciaries must meet the requirements of their state or provincial licensing agencies, which generally require annual review and approval of continuing education units (CEUs), along with the ability to be bonded.  CEUs may be acquired by attending affiliated vendor educational conferences and/or meetings but do not require membership of said organizations. While some may advocate for membership of an organization, it is not a requirement any longer to be a member of such whereas prior to licensing it was the only form of protection the consumer had for complaints. A consumer should consider the caseload of a fiduciary -- lots of cases means less consideration to your family dynamics or attention to detail.  Educational background and community involvement should be considered -- is the fiduciary experienced with nursing or business (a common difference in fiduciaries).  These are just a few examples of what to consider.  The bottom line is one should look for a well-rounded skillset and a personality to match what you or your family expect in the long run.

What are the educational requirement to become a fiduciary?

Continuing education is a very important part of maintaining ones license. However, before one can claim licensure, they must qualify by experience or by education. It is important to realize that prior to legislation there were no formal degree requirements. With the creation of the Fiduciaries Bureau that changed to ensure world-knowledge experience to provide for a better service to those being protected.

Now one must hold a baccalaureate as a minimum to consider a new career as a fiduciary. The exceptions are with experience: an associates and three years of experience, or no degree and five years of experience. Note that experience is not one client but three or more unrelated persons.

To promote continued growth and understanding of legislative changes, every fiduciary must complete 15 units of continuing education units (CEUs) per year, with three (3) units of ethics related material.

Estate or Trust Administration

A trustee will manage investments, keep records, manage assets, prepare court accountings, pay bills (depending on the nature of the trust) medical expenses, charitable gifts, inheritances or other distributions of income and principal. Trustees are not required to exercise all of the powers that they are granted.[2] A trustee can manage any number of trust types, including Charitable, Special Needs Trusts, ILIT, Corporate, and Estate Trusts.

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Conservator / Committee

The term conservatorship is synonymous with elderly guardian but used mostly in the western United States. It is a court-appointed process that can be very expensive as the petitioners and proposed conservatee all must be represented by attorneys, with just a few exceptions for in pro per family members without objections. The reason for the expense is that the proposed conservatee's estate is expected to bear the burden of the court costs in the procedures to appoint.

Powers of Attorney

Under common law, a power of attorney becomes ineffective if its grantor dies or becomes "incapacitated," meaning unable to grant such a power, because of physical injury or mental illness, for example, unless the grantor (or principal) specifies that the power of attorney will continue to be effective even if the grantor becomes incapacitated. This type of power of attorney is called "power of attorney with durable provisions" in the United States or "enduring power of attorney" elsewhere. In effect, under a durable power of attorney (DPoA) [1] Read more

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