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Professional fiduciary

What is a professional fiduciary?

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Dear Phyllis,

For the last five years I have been taking care of my father with little help from my brother (who lives locally). He and I are co-trustees of our father’s estate. Sadly, we stopped speaking several years ago. I have tried to address our differences with my father. But he won’t remove my brother as a co-trustee, so that I can be the sole decision maker. When the time comes to liquidate our father’s estate there is no way the two of us can work together.

It is nearing the time to move my father to assisted living. My accountant suggested that for tax purposes, we should rent his home and sell after he passes. I don’t believe that my brother and I can agree on hiring a property manager and getting the home rented. Do you have any suggestions as to what course of action I should take?

Planning ahead

Dear Planning Ahead,

I am sorry for your estrangement from your brother. Unfortunately, as a real estate agent I find that one child often bares the responsibility of their parent(s).

You and your father need to meet with your trust attorney. One of the options you should discuss is the possibility of hiring a professional fiduciary. A professional fiduciary is someone the court appoints to safeguard the estate’s assets. They have specialized training, and ongoing continuous education. Your father’s attorney can petition the court to either add the professional fiduciary as a co-trustee, or replace one or both of you. It is best to address this sooner rather than later.

This fiduciary will be neutral and likely could replace both of you as co-trustees. Once your father is presented with this option, he might agree to delete your brother as a co-trustee. The fiduciary charges a fee, typically 1% of the assets. But in your scenario, I think the fee charged will be well worth the expense. If you and your brother need the attorney to act as a go-between your legal fees might be astronomical.

I certainly wish you success in getting this quickly and satisfactorily resolved.

One thought on “Professional fiduciary

  1. Sam says:

    Being a single or co trustee is certainly not for everyone. Either friction between relatives or sometimes a complete lack of financial savvy make hiring a professional a good idea

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