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How to Choose Fiduciaries for Your Estate Plan

When it comes to estate planning, a fiduciary is a person or institution given the power to act on your behalf if you become disabled and on behalf of your beneficiaries after you die. This includes personal representatives, successor trustees, health care agents, attorneys in fact, and guardians. This is your guide to choosing the right fiduciaries for your estate plan.

What is a Fiduciary?
A fiduciary is a person or institution given the power to act on behalf of another in situations that require great trust, honesty and loyalty. When it comes to estate planning, you'll be selecting a variety of fiduciaries to act on your behalf. Here's a list of the fiduciaries you'll need to choose for your estate plan.

Who Can Serve as Fiduciaries?
While setting up your estate plan, you'll be asked to name a variety of fiduciaries to act on your behalf in certain situations. Find out who can and can't serve as your fiduciaries and why.

What is a Personal Representative?
A Personal Representative, also referred to as an Executor/Executrix or Administrator in some jurisdictions, is the fiduciary put in charge of settling a deceased person's estate.

Do I Have to Serve as a Personal Representative, Trustee or Guardian?
What if your uncle has named you to serve as the Personal Representative of his estate, the successor Trustee of his trust or his preneed Guardian? And what if your uncle becomes incapacitated or dies and his attorney contacts you to let you know about your appointment, but your really don't want to serve or simply don't have the time? What next?

What Does a Personal Representative Do?
In setting up your estate plan, you'll be asked to name a number of fiduciaries to act on your behalf in various situations. One such fiduciary will be your Personal Representative, or Executor, named under your Last Will and Testament. Learn what a Personal Representative is required to do when administering your estate.

How to Choose Your Personal Representatives
Serving as a "Personal Representative" or "Executor" is a huge responsibility and time consuming burden, but with the help of your estate planning attorney you should be able to choose the right person or institution for the job. Here are the qualities you should look for in your Personal Representative.

How Much Does a Personal Representative Get Paid?
If you've been appointed to serve as the Personal Representative or Executor of an estate, then in most cases you'll be entitled to get paid for the services you provide on behalf of the estate. How much you'll receive and when you'll receive it depends upon many factors.

What is a Trustee?
A Trustee is the fiduciary put in charge of overseeing property owned by a trust. A Trustee can be an individual, or an institution, such as a bank or trust company, or a combination of both.

How to Choose Your Successor Trustees
Serving as the successor Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust, whether due to the Trustmaker's disability or death, is a huge responsibility and time consuming burden, but with the help of your estate planning attorney you should be able to choose the right person or institution for the job. Here are the qualities you should look for in your successor Trustee.

What Does a Successor Trustee Do After the Trustmaker Dies?
In setting up your Revocable Living Trust, you'll be asked to name a Successor or Administrative Trustee to administer your trust after you die. Learn what a Successor Trustee is required to do when settling your trust after you die.

How Much Does a Successor Trustee Get Paid?
If you've been appointed to serve as the Successor Trustee of a Revocable Living Trust after the Trustmaker has died, then in most cases you'll be entitled to get paid for the services you provide on behalf of the trust. How much you'll get paid and when you'll receive it depends on many factors.

How to Choose a Guardian for Your Minor Children
If you have minor children, then probably the most important decision that you'll have to make with regard to your estate plan is who should take care of your children if you die while they're still minors. In legal terms this is called a guardian of the person. Here are 7 things that you should consider when deciding who to name as the guardian for your minor children.

How to Choose Health Care Agents for Your Advance Medical Directive
In setting up your estate plan, you'll be asked to name a number of fiduciaries to act on your behalf in various situations. One such fiduciary will be your "health care agent" named in your Advance Medical Directive.

How to Choose Attorneys in Fact for Your Power of Attorney
In setting up your estate plan, you'll be asked to name a number of fiduciaries to act on your behalf in various situations. One such fiduciary will be your "attorney in fact" named in your Power of Attorney. In addition to selecting your first choice, you should also name one or more backups just in case your first choice isn't available to serve.

Pros and Cons of Appointing Co-Fiduciaries
Many clients often ask me if it's a good idea to name two or more of their children or others to act as co-fiduciaries. This is really dependent upon each client's particular situation - in other words, sometimes it's a really good idea, and sometimes it's a really bad idea. Here's a list of the pros and cons that you should consider if you're trying to decide if you should appoint co-fiduciaries.

Pros and Cons of Appointing Institutional Fiduciaries
When it comes to naming fiduciaries, many people find it difficult to choose among their family members, still others don't believe that any of their family members are capable of serving, or legally they can't serve because they're still minors. In these situations, an institutional fiduciary may be the best choice.

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