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How do a fiduciary and an executor fit into estate planning?

Everyone should have an estate plan. With sufficient preparation, you can be assured that your effects will be distributed according to your wishes. In addition, you can minimize the taxes and expenses that are incurred when your assets are transferred to your beneficiaries.

Fiduciary representation

Because the estate planning process can be complex, it is prudent to obtain fiduciary representation. A fiduciary is a person who acts on behalf of one or more individuals. Typically, this is an attorney who specializes in estate planning. He or she will help you draft a will, establish trusts and identify guardians for minor children. This individual will also help you structure your estate to:

  • Distribute your assets according to your instructions in a timely fashion.
  • Minimize estate taxes and administrative fees.
  • Avoid conflicts among family members.
  • Create a living will and power of attorney, which will ensure that your wishes will be carried out if you are unable to manage your affairs.
  • List beneficiaries on life insurance and retirement plans.
  • Allocate cash to pay outstanding expenses.
  • Protect your family's privacy by avoiding any protracted legal battles.

The role of the executor

Your will becomes a legal document when it is signed. In addition to the disbursement of assets, an important function of the will is the designation of an executor, who will administer the estate. The executor is responsible for locating heirs, paying the estate's debts and distributing property to beneficiaries. In addition, he or she is tasked with filing necessary paperwork and ensuring that taxes and fees are paid. As such, the executor acts as a fiduciary of the estate. In many cases, an attorney who specializes in estate planning performs this important duty.

When you hire an attorney to assume a fiduciary role in your estate planning and management, you will be ensuring that your interests are protected. As a result, you will be preserving your legacy for generations to come.

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