Many different sources talk about the important role of a fiduciary in various aspects of estate planning. Sometimes articles discuss the matters of a breach of fiduciary duty or the high demands made on a person who has the charge of watching out for the best interests of a client.
A basic understanding of fiduciary representation can help clarify a few matters.
Defining the term
According to an article in the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Journal, a fiduciary generally refers to any party who has a duty to another when it comes to an asset. The term could cover a trustee, a guardian, an agent under the power of an attorney and the executor of an estate. In its broadest sense, a fiduciary duty could refer to the honest performance of a government official or anyone who does services for a client.
Deciding on the fiduciary
In many cases, the client or the protected individual chooses the fiduciary. In this type of collaborative selection, the client typically knows the person they select and has a deep level of trust in the person. In other cases, the courts appoint a fiduciary representative to discharge certain duties. Given the wide number of roles performed by fiduciaries, clients or the courts should take care selecting one who understands the specific role and its duties.
Protecting the individual or the estate
In all cases, the role of the agent involves protecting the best interests of the client. The estate may fall under the provisions of a will, trust, guardianship or power of attorney. Though the role of fiduciary representation covers a lot of ground, it has one main goal: to protect the asset interests of the client.