The Role of Private Professional Fiduciaries in California

Private Professional Fiduciaries conceptOne of the most important decisions you will ever make is choosing the individual(s) who will carry out your wishes when you can no longer speak on your own behalf. For example, who should you name as your “agent” in your health care directive or powers of attorney? This person would make decisions based on the instructions outlined in your legal documents. Similarly, your “trustee” would make sure the mandates of your trust are carried out after you pass away.

Many people consider naming their spouse, adult children, or close friends to fulfill these crucial roles. However, what if these loved ones are unable to serve, or you think they would be incapable of handling the responsibility?

In California, we have what are known as Private Professional Fiduciaries. These professionals include attorneys, bankers, CPAs, health care providers, and social workers. They typically have extensive experience in meeting the personal, financial, and care needs of their clients. To serve as a Private Professional Fiduciary, one must be licensed by the Professional Fiduciaries Bureau under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. A fiduciary’s role is not just that of financial manager, guardian, or decision-maker, it is also a commitment to protecting a client’s physical, emotional, and financial interests.

We do serve in this capacity at LA Elder Law and the Law Offices of Joseph C. Girard. We also have an extensive network of experienced and trustworthy Private Professional Fiduciaries whom we have worked with over the years. In addition, we include a clause in our clients’ trusts, health care directives, and powers of attorney for wealth giving authority, where appropriate, to “any Private Professional Fiduciary nominated by a licensed California attorney.”

Of course, this clause does not supersede your own choices. Rather, it is intended to provide protection and peace of mind if your choices are unable to serve in the future.

If you are struggling to decide who should serve as your agent, trustee, or any other fiduciary, we are here to help—as always.