Helping Fiduciaries Understand Risks And Responsibilities

If you have been appointed as an executor of a family member's will, a trustee to a loved one's trust or as an agent in a power of attorney, you may not be aware of the duties and risks of your role. While you may be able to make your way through the complicated procedures required of your role on your own, an experienced attorney can help.

At The Elder & Disability Law Center, our lawyers have extensive experience helping individuals and families throughout the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. We will help you minimize your personal liability exposure and provide you with skilled guidance for your fiduciary responsibilities.

What Is A Fiduciary?

In general, a fiduciary is a person or institution — such as a bank or trust company — that is given the power to act on behalf of someone for the benefit of others. It comes with a high degree of responsibility and accountability. It is not a job you should do alone. For example, if Joe hands Susan $100 with instructions to give $25 to each of her four brothers, Susan is acting as a fiduciary for Joe, providing a benefit to her brothers.

The role of a fiduciary can be very complicated, especially when elder law, estate planning and trust administration matters are involved. Following are real-life examples of fiduciary relationships:

  • A guardian responsible for making health care decisions on behalf of a minor child
  • A conservator entrusted to handle financial matters for a person who has become incapacitated
  • An executor or personal representative of a will
  • A financial institution or individual instructed to carry out the provisions of an estate plan
  • A trustee obligated to administer proceeds and provide financial statements to the beneficiaries of a trust

Let Us Help You Avoid Litigation

If you are a fiduciary, you may become the target of a lawsuit.

There are risks associated with being a fiduciary. Failure to find and accurately account for each asset under your control may lead to litigation. A disgruntled heir may believe he or she is entitled to more and can contest the will. If, in the example above, Joe instructs Susan to give $20 to herself and to each of her brothers and there is some confusion about the amount of money she was given, a brother may wonder if she kept more for herself than she was allowed.

You have too much at stake when you are appointed as a fiduciary not to consult with counsel. Contact The Elder & Disability Law Center to speak with a lawyer. You may call us at 202-452-0000 or toll free at 866-399-4324, or you may send us an email.