A fiduciary is entrusted to manage financial and/or healthcare affairs for another. Financial affairs often include management of cash in bank accounts, securities in investment portfolios, retirement funds, real estate, rentals, timber or ranch land, and business interests. Healthcare affairs can include advocating for a client who has lost his or her memory, or ability to communicate. Sometime clients are in the extremely vulnerable and dependent process of dying. The fiduciary’s duty to his or her client requires the utmost of loyalty. Professional fiduciaries are specifically trained in the art and science of guiding clients, and ultimately making decisions for clients, without any personal bias, and do so while steadfastly protecting and honoring the client’s wishes.
Many people select a friend or family member to act as their fiduciary. While this may work for some, there are many reasons to choose a professional fiduciary.
- Professional fiduciaries are licensed and regulated by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, within the California Department of Consumer Affairs. They are trained in, and must adhere to, federal and state laws, professional and ethical standards, and prudent policies and standards, in order to safeguard the financial and health care interests of their clients. Professional fiduciaries are required to report to the Bureau on an annual basis.
- Professional fiduciaries must meet a minimum number of hours of continuing professional education in order to maintain their license
- Professional fiduciaries maintain an insurance policy to protect clients.
- Professional fiduciaries have the knowledge and community resources to work cooperatively with accountants, attorneys, investment advisors, insurance and real estate agents, medical providers and other professionals for assistance with legal, financial and healthcare matters to enhance the best interests of their clients.
- Professional fiduciaries will never make a decision regarding your finances or healthcare from a place of self-interest or greed. Professional fiduciaries understand that their priority is to honor and protect their clients’ best interests. Although we like to think that the same is true of our family members and friends, the lack of regulations and training for non-professional fiduciaries can result in tragic financial, personal, and family dramas.
- Professional fiduciaries are professional service providers and as such, they do charge for their services. This may serve as an initial deterrent to a consumer who assumes family or friends can perform the same work for less money. However, if there is contention among family members or beneficiaries, or if the assets held in the trust or estate are somewhat complex, the professional fiduciary fees may pale in comparison to the cost of litigation, or mediation and legal fees, when a non-professional steps into a situation that he/she is ill prepared to handle.