What is a Licensed Fiduciary?
AIn Arizona, the licensed fiduciary has been certified through the Certification and Licensing Division of the Arizona Supreme Court.
Commonly used terms for fiduciary are: Trustee, Personal Representative (in some states called Executor or Estate Administrator, Conservator (in other states often called Guardian of the Estate), Guardian (some states use the term Guardian of the Person). Different states use different terms.
A fiduciary is someone who accepts responsibility for taking care of the personal or financial needs of another person. Fiduciary duties depend on whether services are provided for a deceased person or someone still living.
When you engage a licensed fiduciary you know the fiduciary has met requirements for educational background, and professional experience, passed a licensing test, was fingerprinted, and had a thorough criminal and financial background check. In addition, licensed fiduciaries must be bonded and attend continuing education to maintain their license.
Licensed Fiduciaries are held to a very high standard under the law and meet stringent reporting requirements under court appointment. They are accountable for their actions and all decisions and expenses made on a client's behalf.
The personal representative performs a fiduciary function, bound by law to protect and preserve the deceased person's assets and refrain from any self-dealing or any actions that could be construed as such.
One of the most important decisions in estate planning is the selection of the right person (or institution) to be in charge of your assets when you can no longer take care of your own affairs or after your death. The person or institution you chose will act as your fiduciary
If you have a Will, you named an Executor (also knows as Esate Administrator or Personal Representative), who will be your fiduciary. If you have a trust, the trustee or your successor trustee will be your fiduciary. If you have minor children, the guardian or conservator for your minor children will be your fiduciary.
A wise choice in the fiduciary will determine how skilfully the fruits of your life's work will be handled once you cannot do it yourself. Will your wealth and your precious possessions be passed on quickly and efficiently to heirs and beneficiaries? Or will your estate be bogged down by incompetence of the fiduciary and get entangled in endless legal proceedings? Will a your life savings be squandered on attorney fees and court cost?
You want to select a fiduciary who has legal and financial expertise and understands your family dynamics. Many times people chose a family member because they do not know where to find a competent and honest outsider. In the absence of trustworthy family members, many times banks or corporate trust organizations are named in wills and trusts.
Once you have selected a fiduciary, you must also choose a successor. Many times the successor is overlooked. When your first chosen fiduciary dies or is unable to serve for any reason and there is no successor is named, the probate court will appoint a fiduciary for you. This means a total stranger will be in charge of your assets if you should become unable to take care of your own affairs or after your death.
The logical alternative to untrained family members and impersonal corporate trustees is the professional private fiduciary. In Arizona, professional fiduciaries are licensed thourgh the Arizona Superior Court. Licensed Fiduciaries are required by law to always work for the best interest of their clients. Court appointed fiduciaries are required to report periodically to the probate court and show that clients' assets were managed responsibly and no unauthorized expenses were charged.
Licensed fiduciaries are routinely called upon when family situations deteriorate over the management of an estate or inheritance issues, or squabble about the support a person who needs assistance with financial matters. The parties involved might want to select a licensed fiducary as independent third party, or the probabe court may appoint a fiduciary.
At Premier Fiduciary Services, we are personally vested and involved in the affairs of each of our clients. We work with a network of professionals who share our customer-care philosophy and high standards of service.
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