Blog   Tagged ‘probate’

Fiduciaries: what are they and why do you need them?

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One of the most important items in your estate planning process is naming the fiduciaries who will execute your wishes and manage your assets when needed. First, you may be wondering what exactly is a fiduciary. Very simply, a fiduciary is a third-party representative who is appointed to act on behalf of someone else.

Two of the most common fiduciaries in estate planning are the personal representative, the person who handles the assets that are included in someone’s last will and testament; and a trustee, someone who handles the assets that have been placed in a trust.

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So, why do you need a fiduciary and how do you choose the right one? Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Carefully select a fiduciary that you trust to execute your plans.

    Handling an estate may seem like a simple process that anyone can easily manage. However, don’t underestimate both the amount of work and the expertise needed to carry out required duties.

    First, there are a variety of laws that must be navigated, including complicated probate laws. Additionally, accounting for estates and trusts can be extremely technical and require excellent record keeping and tracking. Your fiduciaries must be able to show through proper accounting that they have handled and managed the estate and its assets in an accurate, fair and unbiased manner. If you pick someone who is lacking in knowledge or organizational skills they are at risk for liability and personal fines.

    Tax planning is also a necessary expertise—it’s imperative that an estate is run in a tax-efficient manner. Fiduciaries must understand how their actions affect the estate or trust as well as the beneficiaries. This includes how assets are invested and distributed since trusts are subject to different tax rates and laws than individuals or corporations.

  • There may be disagreements.

    Secondly, you may truly believe that your family members and friends will easily work together and agree on how your assets should be handled. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Appointing a family member or friend frequently causes tension or distress that may not have existed before. If not handled properly, this can easily result in stress, damaged relations or, in some cases, legal action between or against your loved ones.

  • You don’t have to be wealthy to use a professional fiduciary.

    Employing a professional fiduciary is cost-effective, and something you should think about even if you do not consider yourself to be a high-net-worth individual. Your immediate reaction may be that it’s more expensive to hire a fiduciary to handle everything, rather than seeking individual counsel from different experts as needed. However, in many cases, a fiduciary’s cost will be equal to or less expensive.

At the end of the day, it’s in your best interest to carefully research your options to select the appropriate fiduciary for your own unique situation. Designating the right person to efficiently and quickly handle these details in a difficult time is truly one of the best gifts you can leave behind.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Tjaden serves as executive vice president and chief fiduciary officer. He is responsible for supervising all fiduciary activities and staff for UMB, including offices in Kansas City, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix and Salina, as well as the Trust Company in South Dakota. Mr. Tjaden oversees Personal Trust, Custody, Foundations, Trust Legal and Business Support Services within the Private Wealth Management division. He joined UMB in 1977. Mr. Tjaden earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science from Kansas State University. He also earned a Juris Doctor and a master’s in business administration from the University of Kansas. Additionally, Mr. Tjaden is a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor and a member of the Estate Planning Society, the Johnson County Bar Association and the Kansas Bar Association.

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Estate Planning: What will your legacy be?

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You don’t have to be a millionaire to set up an estate plan. Have you thought about passing down a family heirloom to one of your children? Maybe you’ve considered leaving money to a charity that benefits public arts funding. When you’ve spent your life acquiring assets and building wealth through hard work, it’s only natural to want some control over what happens to them after you’re gone. The best way do this is to have a sound estate plan.

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As you form your estate plan, keep in mind several key ideas.

  • Pick your heirs

    Whether you want to pay for your grandchildren’s college education or give a ring that’s been in your family for generations to your oldest daughter, decide who you want to provide for and how.

  • Provide direction

    If you have specific ideas about how you want your assets to be used when you’re gone, make sure that those ideas are clear in your estate plan. You may want to start a family foundation that supports children’s literacy or structure a trust that holds money you’ve left for your children until they reach a certain age. Whatever special objectives you have, clearly outline them in your estate plan to ensure they’re accomplished.

  • Protect your children

    If you have young children, it’s important to select a guardian to care for them and include this in your will. This may seem like an impossible task, but only you should decide who is best suited for the job. Be sure to talk to them about it before you put them in your will. Having a conversation with them ahead of time will prevent surprises and ensure they are up to the responsibility. Once they agree, make sure it’s documented. If you name a guardian in your will, the probate court will be more likely to honor your wishes. If you don’t list a guardian in your will, the court will select one without guidance.

  • Prevent legal hiccups

    Generally, assets owned by one person are subject to probate after they have passed. Probate is a name for the legal process conducted to determine the authenticity of a will and to distribute the assets of an estate. Probate involves legal costs and causes delays in the distribution process.

To avoid probate and minimize taxes on your assets, you can place part or all of them in a trust. One option is a “self declaration of trust,” where you are responsible for the assets while you are still alive (initial trustee) and a professional third party is responsible for distributing the assets after you are gone (successor trustee). Another option is to name the professional third-party as the trustee while you are still alive.

Many people tend to put off estate planning. But it is an important process for you to consider. It’s an opportunity to take control of future planning for yourself and your beneficiaries. It can be a difficult, but if successfully completed, this seemingly impossible task becomes an efficient and well-executed plan.

 

Content is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.  Please consult an attorney for assistance related to estate plans and your particular situation.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Tjaden serves as executive vice president and chief fiduciary officer. He is responsible for supervising all fiduciary activities and staff for UMB, including offices in Kansas City, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix and Salina, as well as the Trust Company in South Dakota. Mr. Tjaden oversees Personal Trust, Custody, Foundations, Trust Legal and Business Support Services within the Private Wealth Management division. He joined UMB in 1977. Mr. Tjaden earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and political science from Kansas State University. He also earned a Juris Doctor and a master’s in business administration from the University of Kansas. Additionally, Mr. Tjaden is a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor and a member of the Estate Planning Society, the Johnson County Bar Association and the Kansas Bar Association.

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