Fiduciaries’ Responsibilities in Administering Trusts

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At some point in your life, you may need the services of a California professional fiduciary. What is professional fiduciary and what services does he or she offer?

A professional fiduciary delivers a variety of management services. Anyone may seek the assistance of a fiduciary to manage their basic needs including daily care, housing and medical requirements.  Fiduciaries also offer expertise in financial management to those in need of advice on handling basic finances to making investments and establishing trusts.

In 2007, California legislators passed the Professional Fiduciaries Act and established the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau under the Department of Consumer Affairs. The Act regulates the examination and licensing of anyone wishing to work as a fiduciary in California. It also establishes the specific provisions to handle disciplinary issues when a consumer registers a complaint.

If you undertake fiduciary duties relating to a trust, you are responsible for administering it according to the specific terms provided in the document. Regardless of the degree of leeway you have in administering the trust, you are bound to:

  • Exercise discretion and make the best possible choices and make changes in the best interests of the trust.
  • Make decisions as if you are the person who named you the fiduciary of his or her trust. What would he or she want in the same situation?
  • Keep good records and detailed documents all of the distributions you make from the trust.

As a trustee, you also require protection. It is probably worth your while to buy errors and omissions insurance to protect against disputes with beneficiaries or other issues that may arise encompassing your role in managing the trust.

Posted in Estate Planning | Tagged consumer affairs, estate planning, fiduciary duties, professional fiduciary

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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