Given that a fiduciary is someone who acts in your best interests or even makes decisions for you if and when you cannot make them for yourself, wisely choosing the person to act in this capacity is extremely important.
- The executor of your last will and testament who will become the personal representative of your probate estate when you die
- The trustee of any trust you establish
- The attorney-in-fact you designate in your advance directive, living will or other document pertaining to your desires for end-of-life care
- The person you appoint to manage your investment accounts or other assets
Also keep in mind that a fiduciary can be either an individual or an entity, such as a bank, investment brokerage, law firm, or other company, agency or organization that routinely acts as a fiduciary for its clients or customers.
While entities like these are already under a legal obligation to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own in any fiduciary decision they make, picking an individual to act as your fiduciary can be a bit more problematic. As yourself the following questions before deciding whom to pick:
Is the Person Trustworthy?
Here we’re not really talking about the person’s honesty, per se, as much as your ability to trust him or her to carry out your wishes the way you want them carried out, even if one of your family members or a health care professional disputes the wisdom of such.
Is He or She Close to You?
Picking someone to act as your fiduciary who knows you extremely well usually is a very good idea. On the other hand, if he or she doesn’t fully buy into your wishes and desires, it may be difficult or impossible for him or her to actually do what you want when the time comes for him or her to do it.
Is He or She Physically, Mentally and Emotionally Able to Serve?
While most states allow anyone over the age of 18 to become a fiduciary, you nevertheless should probably pick someone who has the maturity to make wise decisions, particularly in a crisis situation. You also would do well to pick someone who has the gumption to go against the recommendations of supposed experts who strongly suggest a different course of action.
Does He or She Live Reasonably Near You?
Finally, you should consider where your fiduciary lives in relation to you. Appointing someone who will have to travel a long distance to fulfill his or her fiduciary obligations can be counterproductive. At the very least, it makes it difficult for your fiduciary to adequately perform his or her duties.