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What's the importance of a fiduciary?

One of the things you should do when building your estate is to determine who will be your fiduciary. This is an important role that not just any person should have. Here are some of the jobs the fiduciary has that you should consider before having your attorney designate this party in your will or trust.

What is a fiduciary's job?

A fiduciary takes control of assets when a person passes away. The fiduciary must quickly find and secure all the assets in a will and within an estate upon that person's death, so that he or she can begin the process of paying debts and doling out assets to beneficiaries. Fiduciaries should maintain insurance on the property until the distribution of the estate is completed.

Does the fiduciary work with bills and collections?

The fiduciary has to determine which bills were left unpaid at the time of a person's death. Those could include things like utility bills, property taxes and other such costs. They should then notify creditors of the death of the estate's owner and pay the bills or discuss with creditors any delays. If you will have a delay in paying any bills, an attorney can discuss how this may affect your estate specifically with you.

Who takes care of estate taxes?

It's also the fiduciary's job to complete tax returns for the estate. The estate itself is its own taxpayer, so a tax ID number may need to be created before taxes can be filed. It's not appropriate to use the deceased's Social Security number to file the taxes.

Source: American Bar Association, "Guidelines for Individual Executors & Trustees," accessed Oct. 11, 2016

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