What questions should I ask a professional fiduciary?
What is a private fiduciary?
A private fiduciary is a person or organization that has been licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court to serve as a Guardian of a person, Conservator of their finances, as Personal Representative of a deceased person's estate or Trustee. A private fiduciary serves in a professional capacity, is not a family member, and can never become the beneficiary of the estate. The appointment of a private fiduciary does not change an Estate Plan; only who will carry it out. Similar to a CPA or attorney, a fiduciary charges a fee for their services. These fees are reviewed and approved by the Superior Court of Arizona.
What is a conservator?
A conservator is appointed by the Arizona Superior Court to manage the assets of a protected person for their benefit. All work is done under the supervision of the court and each year the Conservator must file an accounting with the court. This annual accounting reports all receipts and disbursements made during the year. The court reviews and approves the Conservator's annual accounting.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is appointed by the Arizona Superior Court to make all non-financial decisions for adults who are no longer able to make informed decisions for themselves. The Guardian consents to medical treatments or surgeries and monitors their clients' medical care. The Guardian also assures that their client is living in the least restrictive, appropriate environment. A Report of Guardian is submitted annually to the court for review.
What is a Personal Representative (Executor)?
A Personal Representative (also known in other States as an Executor) cam be appointed by the court to administer the estate of a person who died; referred to as the "Decedent". The Personal Representative is responsible for identifying, inventorying, and protecting all the assets in the estate, paying bills and allowable claims against the estate, locating the heirs and/or beneficiaries, paying administrative costs of the estate, filing all appropriate income and estate tax returns and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.
What is a Trustee or Successor Trustee?
A trustee manages property held by a trust. A trust is a legal entity created by one or more persons called "Trustors", who appoint a Trustee to manage the trust's assets according to the terms of the trust. Private fiduciaries are often designated Successor Trustees of an existing trust because of their experience in managing and settling estates or as a compromise in disputed matters.
Why are private fiduciaries sometimes appointed to serve as Guardian, Conservator, Personal Representative, and/or Trustee as opposed to members of the family?
Family personal representatives may be unable to serve for a number of reasons. They may live out of state, they may have their own health issues, or they may have other challenges which inhibit their ability to perform the duties of a fiduciary. In other cases, disagreement between family members may preclude any one person from serving effectively. In these cases the judge may choose to appoint a neutral third party, such as a private fiduciary to best serve the protected person or estate.
Can a private fiduciary serve on a temporary basis and why is this sometimes a good solution?
Often a person who is in need of protection has disabilities that cause them to have little insight into their deficits and their need for a Guardian/Conservator. They may strongly resent their family's attempt to help them by becoming their fiduciary. Childers & Coventry, LLC, can serve as temporary Guardian/Conservator to help resolve short-term problems such as: stabilizing the protected person's living situation, obtaining medical care, stopping financial exploitation by a third party or locating and putting assets under court protection. The protected person’s anger and resentment can be directed at Childers & Coventry and its staff rather than family members.
Once the situation is stabilized and the protected person receives the care and protection they need the family can be appointed as the permanent fiduciary. This plan often works well for both the protected person and the family; helping to obtain immediate intervention while preserving the family relationships.
When and how do private fiduciary services terminate?
Fiduciary services terminate upon order of the Court when the protected person dies, regains capacity, moves to another state or a family member is appointed by the court.
How much will it cost for a professional fiduciary?
The total cost, including requisite legal fees, for a professional Guardian or Conservator varies greatly depending on the complexity of the estate. Refer to "Fees" for Childers & Coventry, LLC hourly rates for various levels of service; non-fee costs of administration are charged at the published rates.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney, or POA, is an instrument used by a person (the principal) to appoint another person (the agent; also known as an Attorney-in-Fact) to act on their behalf. There are several types of POA authorized under Arizona law. While a POA may confer significant authority to an agent, it also creates a duty of fidelity and good faith by the agent to the principal.
What is the difference between a Power of Attorney and a court-appointed fiduciary?
There may be many minor differences between the authority and duties granted under a Power of Attorney (POA) and those of a court-appointed fiduciary, such as a Guardian and/or Conservator. The two primary differences are: 1) that a POA is appointed by the principal and 2) a POA in Arizona is not subject to the oversight and administrative requirements of the court. This is likely to result in significantly reduced costs for the fiduciary services rendered by an agent acting under a POA.
A fiduciary, licensed by the Arizona Supreme Court, has a duty to perform all fiduciary duties with the same level of competency regardless of how they derive their authority to act.
Will my personal information be secured and protected against fraud?
Childers & Coventry, LLC has strict policies and procedures to keep their client’s personal information protected. C&B also follows a dual custody protocol when dealing with a client's personal property and assets.
What about the Protected Person's house and other property?
When possible, Childers & Coventry's care managers work to keep the client safely in their home. If this is no longer possible, Childers & Coventry has property management staff that safeguards the home, automobile and other person possessions of the clients or estates. If needed, Childers & Coventry works with local realtors, estate sale groups, and other professionals to liquidate a client's unneeded property and deposit the proceeds into the client's banking accounts.
Are you able to qualify the protected person for benefits they may be eligible for?
Yes. Our staff has experience in obtaining & retaining various public benefits for our clients. They include: Social Security, Arizona Long Term Care, AHCCCS, and many other state and federal benefits.
I have heard that a Special Needs Trust may be appropriate in some instances. Are you able to serve as Trustee once a Special Needs Trust is established?
Yes. We have been appointed as Trustee for several Special Needs Trusts. Our staff is skilled in this area and we work closely with Arizona attorneys who are members of theSpecial Needs Alliance.