What is a Fiduciary and How Does It Relate to Estate Administration?
June 5th, 2018
When you pass away, a fiduciary, whom you have usually chosen in your estate planning documents, is in charge of administering your estate, settling your debts, and distributing your assets to your heirs or beneficiaries. A fiduciary is most often an executor or personal representative of your estate, or a trustee whom you have designated in your trust, or an attorney handling your estate. In the realm of estate planning, a fiduciary holds a position of trust, in that he or she must properly safeguard and manage your property for the sole benefit of designated heirs or beneficiaries. Not only does a fiduciary have legal obligations, but he or she also has duties of care and loyalty that he or she must not violate.
In the context of estate administration, the executor or personal representative of your estate is generally someone whom you have designated in your will to fill this role. If you die without a will, however, and you have assets to be distributed, it is necessary for a court to designate a personal representative on your behalf. The basic duties of a personal representative are to pay any debts that exist and distribute assets, either according to your will’s terms or according to Michigan law for intestate succession, which applies only when you don’t have a will. A personal representative also has a duty to communicate with beneficiaries of the estate on a frequent and continuing basis; he or she must keep them informed of the status of the estate and the anticipated timeline for settling the estate.
As you can see, designating a fiduciary is an important step in the estate planning process, as well as a decision that you should not take lightly. Legacy Law Center handles all facets of estate planning for clients on a daily basis. We know how to best advise you, based on your circumstances, about the options for estate planning that are best for you and your family. Take the first step and call our office today to set up a meeting time with one of our Michigan estate planning attorneys.