A fiduciary is an individual who acts in a position of trust such as acting as a guardian of estates,conservator of estates, personal representative of estates, or as an agent under powers of attorney.
A fiduciary as a trustee of a trust has the responsibility of administering the trust as set forth in the trust document, including safeguarding the trust assets, investing assets, accounting to the beneficiaries, and distributing assets as the trust document provides.
A fiduciary can also act as a conservator of an estate of the conservatee, where they are responsible for protecting and managing the conservatee’s asset, receiving income, paying bills, and filing tax returns. The duties of a fiduciary acting under a power of attorney are similar. All are positions which require a high degree of honesty and integrity,
Last week in Federal Court in San Diego, a private professional fiduciary pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering, admitting that she misused her position as a court-appointed professional trustee to steal trust funds from conservatorships, family trusts, and estates. It is estimated that she bilked as much as $2.5 million from accounts between 2006 and January, 2011.
To avoid being a victim of abuse by another who is acting as a fiduciary, make sure you choose an individual who is honest and trustworthy and if you select a private professional fiduciary, make sure that individual is a member of the Professonal Fiduciary Association of California and is licensed with no disciplinary actions filed with the California Professional Fiduciary Bureau. This did not help the victims of the fiduciary recently indicted, however, as she was a member of the Professional Fiduciary Association of California and had no disciplinary record.
Report suspicious activity on the part of a professional fiduciary to the Dept. of Consumer Affairs. For assistance determining is there is abuse with a private individual acting as a trustee or in other fiduciary role, contact us at Scott C. Soady, A Professional Corporation for a complimentary consultation.