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You may be older, or know someone you care about who is, who has no family or friends they may confidently rely on to handle the many affairs, both financial and physical, that people face as they age.

In some cases, there is plenty of family who could take over if needed, but they live far away or are fully committed to their own professional and personal responsibilities. Often, family is willing but not able. That is, they may lack the appropriate knowledge or skills to carry out these duties. It is also common for conflicts to arise among family members, which can create very unfortunate and unwanted outcomes for all concerned.

All too often, folks avoid completing documents vital to ensuring that their personal wishes are honored should they lose the capacity to express these for themselves, down the road.

Enter the professional fiduciary:

A fiduciary is a representative who is entrusted with the responsibility of utmost care in protecting the interests of the individual and estate they represent. They may serve as daily money managers, trustees, representative payees, or as agents under financial or health care Powers of Attorney. They may be individuals in private practice, or a member of the trust department in a financial institution.

Services provided by fiduciaries range from those somewhat limited in nature, to those in which the fiduciary essentially steps into the shoes of one who has unfortunately, lost their own capacity to do so.

All such arrangements must be made in writing, again, while an individual has the legal capacity to make them, even if the services of the fiduciary will not begin until such time as the individual loses this capacity or passes away.When a fiduciary has not yet been designated and one has lost the capacity to competently appoint one, a Conservator may be appointed by the Court to oversee all financial and/or personal affairs for individuals deemed by the Court to lack the cognitive or physical capacity to manage things on their own.

The best way to ensure that your affairs, or those of someone you care about will be handled in the most straightforward way possible, is to consult with an estate attorney, financial, or other professional advisor, to learn how best to proceed and then execute the necessary documents.

All estate and trust documents should be kept up to date to make sure that as circumstances change, appropriate arrangements are made.

It is never too early to plan for the future.

No matter what your age, an estate plan will provide you and those you care about with great peace of mind. In many cases, for many different reasons, a fiduciary may be the best option for you and your family to protect interests of all kinds, minimize confusion, and ensure that your wishes and those of the ones you care about are protected to the greatest extent possible.

Below is a list of a few local fiduciaries. Visit their websites and if you wish, contact them to explore your options and decide who might be the best fit for you.

Quinn Fiduciary Services:

Channel Islands Fiduciary Group:

Mark Watson Professional Fiduciary:

LifeBridge Solutions LLC:

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