If you’ve begun the estate planning process, then you’ve likely heard the term “fiduciary” thrown about. This word can be used to describe the duty that either an institution or a person has to protect the interests of another with the utmost loyalty, trust and honesty. Some refer to this obligation as providing a “higher standard of care”.

Many aspects of the estate planning and settlement process involve assigning someone else fiduciary duties. Those appointed to take on this role may be real estate or mortgage brokers, financial planners, attorneys, accountants or personal bankers. They even may be your family member or a trusted friend.

When it comes to a durable power of attorney, you may use it to appoint someone to take care of making financial decisions on your behalf. You may have a trusted wealth manager whose instincts you trust. If you do, then you may appoint him or her as your fiduciary. That person would be essentially on call to handle your investments, real estate portfolio, intellectual property rights and other assets on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.

If you draft a health care proxy, another type of power of attorney, then you’ll need to select someone to serve as your fiduciary as well. The person that you appoint to that role should be made aware of your treatment preferences in advance of you signing the advance medical directive.

Once you sign it, your fiduciary’s responsibility becomes ensuring that the medical decisions that he or she voices to doctors are in alignment with what you’ve dictated in this medical power of attorney.

When it comes to health care proxies, there are two situations in which your fiduciary would be called upon to make these decisions for you. They could voice your wishes if you were to become comatose or otherwise permanently incapacitated that you couldn’t do so on your own.

Choosing someone that can be trusted enough to make decisions that are in both in alignment with your wishes and in your best interest isn’t an easy task. A Waltham powers of attorney lawyer can guide you in making the best fiduciary choice possible.

Source: The Motley Fool, “What is a fiduciary?,” accessed June 15, 2018