A Fiduciary can be many things, partly depending on context. In the general legal context it is anyone in a position of trust with respect to another. Many of us are familiar with financial advisers and brokers being fiduciaries - mostly the same, just in a different context. In the context of my practice, it is also the same, but it involves assisting individuals who cannot, or choose not to, manage their own affairs. I work primarily in the financial area, as a conservator when a court appoints me to that role or as an agent pursuant to a power of attorney when the individual chooses to have that assistance. The important thing is that in all of these cases the fiduciary acts for another and is in a position of trust.
Conservators may be necessary if an individual lacks capacity, whether due to advancing age, an injury or accident, because of minority, or simply lacking the ability. In any of these cases it may be necessary to have a court appoint someone to act for the individual and in many cases a family member or trusted friend may be appointed. In other cases, where no suitable relative or friend is willing or able to take on this role, a professional fiduciary such as myself may be appointed. This might happen for example where an elderly dementia patient has no family nearby and needs assistance in applying for Medicaid or selling assets. It can involve a person who is able, with assistance, to live independently, but no longer able to manage the financial aspects of doing so.
Similarly, a power of attorney can serve many of the same purposes, if the individual creates, or has created, the power of attorney while still having legal capacity to do so. In that case, there is no need for the time and expense of a court appointment and it can be as broad or narrow as necessary. This might occur where the individual needs assistance in selling an asset but is not able to travel to do so or if an individual is able to pay bills and make purchases but would prefer to no longer be responsible for doing so.
In all of these cases, the fiduciary acting for another is, to the extent possible, merely a means to do what the individual cannot or chooses not to do. My philosophy in this practice is to allow the individual as much choice and control as is possible and to do what that individual would do, to the extent that I can determine it.
Member National Guardianship Association and Colorado Guardianship Association
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