If you have a title in your job, you know that often that title doesn't carry much clout. While it may bring with it a slight raise in pay, it mostly signifies the responsibilities you have in the business.
Now that you are considering making your estate plan, you may be encountering the titles for many different people who may be involved in your plan. Mostly, these are fiduciaries, who are people holding a special level of trust. Their titles obligate them to look out for your best interests. As you plan your estate, it may be helpful to have a better understanding of the roles each of these fiduciaries plays in the smooth administration of your estate.
Consider these fiduciary roles
The fiduciaries in your estate plan come into their roles in one of two ways. Either a judge appoints them or you designate them. Those with no estate plan leave it up to a judge to name the people who will make delicate and difficult decisions for them. However, if you choose your own fiduciaries, you may have a better chance of ensuring that your wishes will be honored. Some of the common fiduciaries in estate planning include the following:
- Your health care agent: This trusted individual has the authority to make medical choices for you if you become too ill to make your wishes clear. You can direct your surrogate through an advance medical directive or power of attorney.
- Your power of attorney: In the event, you are incapacitated for a lengthy period of time, this fiduciary will tend to your financial well-being, paying your bills, managing your accounts and handling your affairs.
- A successor trustee: Since you are likely the trustee of any living trusts you have created, choosing a successor trustee to take over if you become ill or pass away can ensure the assets you place in your trust receive continued attention according to your plans
- A guardian: This fiduciary will care for your minor children if you should die before they reach the age of majority.
- Estate executor: This personal representative will take your estate through probate after you pass.
You can name more than one person to be your personal representative, for example, if you have two children who will share the duties. Many people in Washington wish to spare their loved ones the frustration and time often involved in administrating an estate, and they assign those duties to an attorney or other entity. Choosing trusted individuals for each of these fiduciary duties may provide you with peace of mind about your future.