Building Trust: Choosing a Fiduciary for Peace of Mind

Vice President

An older couple sit holding a sheaf of paper, facing another person whose face we cannot see

Selecting a fiduciary is a critical decision that can significantly impact your future and the well-being of your loved ones. A fiduciary is someone you entrust with a position of legal responsibility, such as managing your finances, making medical decisions, or caring for your children if you’re incapacitated or pass away. Here are some things my family considered when choosing a fiduciary:

  1. Character and Trustworthiness: Choose someone with a strong moral compass, known for their honesty, integrity, and good judgment. Consider their past behavior in handling financial matters and their ability to make responsible decisions.
  2. Competence and Skills: Match the chosen fiduciary’s skillset to the specific role. For financial matters, look for someone with financial literacy and experience managing similar assets. If you need someone to make medical decisions, choose someone who can understand complex medical information and advocate for your wishes.
  3. Availability and Willingness: Your chosen fiduciary should be readily available to fulfill their duties. This includes time commitment and geographical proximity, especially if the role involves physical care or frequent meetings. Ensure they are genuinely interested and willing to take on the responsibility.
  4. Age and Health: Consider the long-term implications. While younger individuals might be physically more capable now, longevity and potential health issues of both you and the fiduciary need to be considered.
  5. Communication Style: Choose someone you can openly communicate with. They should be comfortable discussing sensitive topics and ensuring your wishes are understood.
  6. Alignment of Values: Select someone who understands your goals for your assets or your health care. Doing so ensures decisions align with your wishes and philosophy.
  7. Professional Guidance: A corporate fiduciary, such as TCO, can serve as a neutral and professional executor, trustee, or agent under a power of attorney. Additionally, one can name a trust protector to oversee the corporate trustee. The trust protector can advocate for beneficiaries if needed and even replace the corporate trustee if the beneficiaries are mistreated.
  8. Backup Plan: It’s wise to have a backup person designated in case your primary choice becomes unable to serve. A corporate trustee is a great back up to a person.
  9. Family Dynamics: Consider the potential impact on your family. Will choosing a family member create tension or conflict? Sometimes, a neutral third party might be a better option.
  10. Compensation: Discuss compensation for the fiduciary, especially if it’s a significant time commitment or involves managing assets.

Like many others, my family is blended. I insisted my parents name a contingent corporate successor trustee in their estate plan in the hopes that their estate administration would go smoothly. They need a contingency should deterioration develop in our already delicate family dynamic. I would gladly pass the responsibility and pay the modest trustee fee to preserve my relationships. Though those decisions were made years ago and long before I started working at TCO, guess who we named? 

TCO has the expertise and neutrality to handle our family’s complex dynamics, no matter what the future holds.

Vice President

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