We Can Help When Estates Run Into Problems
Problems With Estate Management
When you take on the job of handling money and assets for another, you are a “fiduciary”, subject to court review of being faithful to your duties and working in the best interest of that other person. It is a job, it has to be done right and you want to avoid trouble and problems. You need a lawyer who explains what you are to do. You do the job correctly when you keep track of all documents, receipts, expenditures and records. Your lawyer helps spot problems to do the job right.
Problems with documents: Failure to locate or preserve documents makes a fiduciary liable for damages. Most documents can be preserved by deposit or designation such as having stocks and bonds in a stock account (electronic) rather than in certificate form (paper).
Problems with receipts: The lack of keeping receipts can subject a fiduciary to having to reimburse the account being managed. Payment of proper bills must be done and be done on time. The payment is not the end of your duty but starts another duty to preserve and be able to produce all receipts to avoid surcharge and penalties.
Expenditure problems: No payment is to be made unless it is a proper charge for which you will receive credit in your account and report. A “charge” is the legal term upon which liability (expense) is based, and a “credit” is the legal term for which you show you have met the liability. These legal terms, like all others, mean what they say they mean and not what you might think. Your “common sense” may get you in trouble if you do something the law says is not correct or even if you just do it in the wrong way.
Problems with records: Some records you are to keep and some, like deeds, are on record with the County Recorder or the court. Failure to keep records properly is a breach of your fiduciary duty.
Summary: Management of the money and assets of others places responsibility that can be fulfilling and rewarding especially in helping during a time of loss or hardship. Legal requirements have become more stringent as lawmakers have responded to the horror stories about abuses of the money of others.
Problems With Assets
Each asset receives attention according to legal requirements. Houses and real property have requirements that are different from stock accounts. Money and bank accounts have special considerations. You need to identify and properly handle “legacy” assets to carry out your duties.
Background: The term “estate” refers to the legal right to own assets and property. Our other legal status is with regard to our “person.” The “guardian of the person” makes decisions about a ward under the age of 18 as to education and where to live. The “guardian of the estate,” also called the conservator or administrator of the estate, controls assets and property of others, while alive or after death, subject to court supervision.