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Home » Firm News » 4 estate planning professionals who owe you a fiduciary duty

A fiduciary is a person who has a legal or ethical obligation to advance the financial interests of another person. To do so, fiduciaries must provide competent service and avoid conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, though, that does not always happen. There are a variety of ways for a fiduciary to breach his or her obligations to you.

If you are going through the estate planning process, you are apt to encounter a few professionals who owe you a fiduciary duty. To fulfill their obligations, these professionals have unique skillsets and responsibilities.

1. An attorney

Whether you are creating a living will, setting up a trust or deciding what to do with your assets, estate planning can be complex. Lawyers provide important counsel to help you through the estate planning process. They also ensure your planning documents comply with applicable laws.

2. An executor or administrator

If you have a will, you probably need to name an executor. This person is responsible for probating the will and helping to protect your wishes after your death. Your estate’s executor also settles final matters, such as tracking down beneficiaries, paying outstanding debts and filing tax returns.

If you do not designate a person to serve as your executor, the court will appoint an administrator to fulfill the same duties. However, it may not be the person you would have wanted in the role.

3. A trustee

A common estate planning tool, trusts hold your assets for the benefit of someone else. If you decide to form a trust, you must name a trustee. This individual performs a variety of tasks, including overseeing trust disbursements and investments.

4. An agent

For whatever reason, you may eventually become incapable of making financial, medical or other decisions. Accordingly, when planning your estate, you may want to draft a durable power of attorney and designate an agent to make necessary decisions for you.