Selecting an executor can be very overwhelming when you don’t have many suitable choices. An executor is an important role and a big responsibility for whomever you select. Choosing one is not a decision that you should take lightly.
If you lack trusted family members and friends, you may be wondering who else you can confidently and comfortably name an executor.
A professional fiduciary may be the answer.
What is a Professional Fiduciary?
A professional fiduciary is a licensed professional (sometimes a CPA or an attorney) or an institution who is hired to manage an individual’s estate when they die or become incapacitated. A fiduciary is usually named in a private agreement or appointed by a court.
What Does a Professional Fiduciary Do?
Professional fiduciaries have a legal and ethical duty to act and manage the estate in the best interest of the individual they are representing. Fiduciaries can be responsible for handling a variety of affairs on someone else’s behalf, including, but not limited to, serving as an executor for a decedent’s estate.
Who Can Benefit From a Professional Fiduciary?
There are many situations in which someone could benefit from the services of a professional fiduciary. Some individuals may not have many (or any) close family members or friends to act as executor.
For example, an aging senior who never married or has become a widower, never had children, and has outlived the majority of his friends may find it extremely difficult to find someone trustworthy to name as executor. Even in circumstances where there are surviving family members and close friends, a professional fiduciary may still be the most appropriate option.
Note: Individuals who lack friends or family may consider naming a banking institution as executor. However, it’s important to note that banks are not required to accept an executor appointment, and some banks will decline if the estate is not large enough. Keep that in mind as you make your decision on what is best for your estate.
Why Choose a Professional Fiduciary Instead of a Family Member or Friend?
At first thought, many people are inclined to choose an immediate family member, such as a child, or even a close friend, to serve as executor. Unfortunately, there are many situations where family and friends are simply not fit for the role. The remaining surviving family members or friends may be untrustworthy. Or perhaps they lack the capacity to properly perform the duties of an executor. In these cases, a professional fiduciary can ensure every decision regarding the trust is objective and appropriate.
Why Do People Prefer a Professional Fiduciary?
There are two common reasons individuals turn to a professional instead of family or friends. The first is because they do not want to burden their loved ones, and the second is to avoid family conflict.
The executor’s role is incredibly important, complex, and often time-consuming. It’s understandable if the role is simply too much work for a surviving family member or friend to manage. On the other hand, if an individual has several children or a large family, family disputes over the estate could be a valid concern. Siblings, children, or extended family members could feel slighted if they are not named an executor. This may cause unnecessary strife that could escalate into a more serious conflict.
In both of these scenarios, a professional fiduciary can expertly manage the burdensome executor tasks. As well as, help prevent family conflict by acting as a neutral and objective professional.
Making the Right Choice for Your Estate
Choosing an executor is one of the most important decisions one makes during estate planning. It requires careful consideration. This task may feel hopeless if you do not have family and friends who are suitable for the job.
A professional fiduciary can ensure that your estate is managed legally, ethically, and accurately, taking the pressure off you and your loved ones.
Have more questions about how a professional fiduciary can help?
At Marcia L. Campbell, CPA, we act as a licensed and trusted professional fiduciary for many of our clients. Contact us at 1-951-686-3608 to learn how we can help.