Stepping In: A Fiduciary’s Approach to Managing Assets at Incapacity
Managing Assets in Incapacity: A Practical Guide for Fiduciaries
Incapacity can strike anyone, at any age, and the burden of managing a person’s financial affairs often falls on the shoulders of a fiduciary. Whether you are a family member, a trusted friend, or a professional, you’ll need to navigate the complexities of asset management. This guide aims to equip you with practical insights and real-life examples to streamline your tasks.
Finding Important Documents
Imagine you’re a fiduciary for Mr. Brown, who’s now incapacitated due to a severe stroke. Your first task would be to locate his important documents, such as financial statements, property deeds, insurance policies, wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. They could be neatly filed in his study or stored away in a safety deposit box. If you’re not sure where these documents are, a good place to start would be to contact his attorney or ask close family members.
Accessing Original Documents
Original documents are the golden keys in asset management. For instance, if you needed to sell a property to pay for Mr. Brown’s care, you would need the original deed. You could find this in a fireproof home safe or in a safety deposit box at a bank. However, make sure you’re an authorized secondary user for the safety deposit box to avoid complications in accessing the box during the times of need.
Handling Copies of Documents
As a fiduciary, you should ideally have copies of all crucial documents. If Mr. Brown’s attorney or a close family member has a copy of his insurance policy and you need it urgently, having your own copy ensures you can access it quickly. But remember, handling these documents means handling sensitive information about Mr. Brown’s estate. Always uphold the highest degree of trust.
Taking Control as a Fiduciary
As Mr. Brown’s fiduciary, you step in to manage his assets, pay his bills, and make health decisions for him. You can assume control through legal mechanisms provided for in powers of attorney, trust documents, or through court-appointed conservatorships. Remember, your role is to act in Mr. Brown’s best interest when he’s unable to do so.
Springing Durable Power of Attorney
A springing durable power of attorney could be likened to a magic wand in your fiduciary toolkit. This legal document activates upon the incapacity of the person, like Mr. Brown, and allows you to handle his financial matters. Whether it’s paying bills, managing investments, or selling property, this document gives you the authority to step into his shoes.
Establishing Evidence of Incapacity
Proving incapacity is like proving the key that unlocks the magic wand. Generally, a licensed physician needs to declare the person in question unable to manage their affairs. If Mr. Brown’s power of attorney document calls for multiple physicians’ certifications, then that is a path you will need to follow. A clear and specific incapacity clause in a legal document can significantly streamline this process.
Being a fiduciary is not an easy task. However, understanding your responsibilities and knowing how to navigate through the important documents can help you fulfill your role effectively. Estate management during incapacity is not only about managing assets, but it’s also about showing care and respect to the person who has entrusted you with such a significant responsibility.