5 things you must need to know for Proper Estate Planning

Proper estate planning can help you lower or even avoid estate taxes. In any estate planning strategy, the choice of fiduciary is very important. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney on how to choose a fiduciary. A fiduciary is known by different names depending on the estate planning strategy. The fiduciary in a will is called an executor or executrix. In case of a trust, the fiduciary is known as the trustee. The fiduciary appointed by a power of attorney is known as the agent. A fiduciary should be some you trust. Generally you would appoint your spouse as the fiduciary but legally you can appoint any person you want as the fiduciary. A fiduciary can be anyone – your child, your friend, your attorney, your brother, your sister or even a corporation but what is important is that they should be willing to work as the fiduciary.
If you have been appointed as a fiduciary, consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to know your rights and obligations. As a fiduciary you are duty bound to do certain things and you will be subject to oversight by the courts. Your duties as a fiduciary will depend on the estate planning strategy.
If you have been appointed as the executor or executrix of a will, you will be responsible for the probate, paying off taxes and debts from the estate and distributing the remaining assets according to the will. If you have been appointed as a trustee, you have the obligation to hold and invest the assets vested in the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust. If you have been appointed as an agent under a power of attorney, you will have to act as under the terms of the power of attorney. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to know your obligations. If you act in any manner can causes loss to the estate, you can be removed as the fiduciary.
Generally as a fiduciary you will have the powers necessary to achieve the purpose of the estate planning strategy. Some of these powers will be provided by the estate planning document but sometimes as a fiduciary you can exercise certain powers not listed in the estate planning document if the exercise of that power is necessary to achieve the purpose of the estate planning strategy. Sometimes the estate planning document may specifically bar the exercise of certain powers by the fiduciary. Generally as a fiduciary, you can sell property but unless the estate planning documents specifically authorize you, you cannot borrow against property. As a fiduciary you are expected to exercise care and skill while dealing with the estate. You must exercise the care and skill a reasonably prudent person would exercise under similar circumstances.
If you are the beneficiary of any estate planning strategy, you can petition the courts to have the fiduciary removed for improper conduct. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. The attorney can review your case and advise you on your options to remove the fiduciary.


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