• Cliff Coulter

Selecting the #1 choice for your fiduciary

Selecting a fiduciary can easily get people rattled. A lot goes into the decision so do not take it lightly. Here is a list of things to consider:


Personal Representative:

  • Identifying, taking custody and creating an inventory of the assets of the estate. Determining the fair market value of the estate assets

  • Identifying and contacting the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries

  • Notifying various state and federal agencies of the decedent' death and discounting automatic deposits into and debits from the decedent's accounts Opening a checking account in the name of die estate for the payment of valid. debts, funeral expenses and medical bills, and expenses incurred in the estate

  • Receiving payments due to the decedent and the estate (such as dividends, unpaid wages and other benefits)

  • Filing income and estate tax returns

  • Distributing assets to the appropriate beneficiaries

Trustee

  • Reviewing documents

  • Locating, obtaining information about, notifying and accounting to trust beneficiaries in accordance with provisions of Washington Trust Act

  • Determining assets in trust, funding trust account (inventory, tax basis, acquisition date)

  • Retaining qualified investment or other asset manager, opening trust investment and bank accounts as appropriate and/or titling assets into name of trustee, developing investment policy statement, budget for trust

  • Administering trust assets, keeping records and considering distribution requests in accordance with the terms of the trust

  • Filing fiduciary income tax returns

Guardianship Questions

  • Will the guardian be able to raise your child according to your values? Does the guardian share you beliefs, principles, and philosophy of life.

  • Will your guardian be in favor of your children's personality and lifestyle? Are they compatible?

  • Is the guardian already a parent? What is his or her parenting style like? Is it similar to your own style or is it the opposite? Does your child have an opportunity to thrive with this parenting style? 

  • Does the guardian share your religious views? Will the guardian be able to raise your child according to your religious views? 

  • Is the guardian capable of handling the responsibilities and duties that flow from a guardianship? Do they have the resources (i.e. time, energy, health, financial ability, and emotional wherewithal) necessary to support your child?

  • Does the child already have a relationship with your guardian? Does the child and the guardian like each other and have a happy, constructive relationship? 

  • Does your guardian live far away, or close by? Would your guardian require relocation from your home and community?

  • What kind of lifestyle does the guardian lead? What kind or type of person are they?

When selecting a fiduciary, you also should consider family circumstances, the sophistication of your investments, whether your individual being considered for the fiduciary's position is familiar with the decedent's affairs and/or trust beneficiaries and assets, whether the person being considered has good people skills and conflict resolution skills to diffuse any issues that may come up during the estate or trust administration and whether the person being considered has the time to undertake such a project.


If you cannot think of a friend, family member or trusted advisor that you wish to appoint, you can consider selecting a professional fiduciary or a trust company to serve as fiduciary. These professionals can also be an excellent alternative when the decedent anticipates conflict in the family or when the decedent's estate or the trust holds particularly complex assets and investments.


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