Why Choose A Professional Fiduciary In Washington State
John Platt | Mar 30, 2015, 11:02 a.m.
Imagine this scenario: You’re at a family celebration and everyone there is in great spirits. Sometime after dessert and before the good-byes, you pull your daughter aside and ask if she would be willing to be the executor of your will. After all, she’s been the responsible one, finished her degree in business, and has a career and a nice little family of her own. She would be perfect for the task of closing your estate when you pass away because she clearly has her act together. In turn, your daughter accepts your request without hesitation, saying that she is honored to serve in this important capacity for you. You exchange a hug and words of thanks, your lawyer drafts the document with her name inserted, and your lives go on.
Then, one day, you pass away.
Your daughter gets a phone call from your attorney informing her of things she needs to do as the personal representative of your estate. She will be advised of her responsibilities, which include paying your outstanding debts, filing a final tax return, and distributing the proceeds of your estate in the manner you had specified in your will. She will need to open a bank account, possibly sell your residences, liquidate your investment portfolio, sell your personal effects (those that have not already been distributed as-is to your survivors) and make many other arrangements in pursuit of maximizing the value of your affairs as they are passed to your beneficiaries. She will field dozens of phone calls from attorneys, realtors, brokers, and - long lost relatives. She will be asked - many times – when she will be cutting checks, and how big they will be. If she has siblings, her relationship with them is going to change, probably in some not so favorable ways. She will be made aware of the liability that she now carries to act in a fiduciary manner, and that if something from your estate gets missed and brought up three years from now – it’s on her to make it right. And, through all of this, she will bear the constant reminder of her grief in losing you.
Hopefully, she will be advised to keep track of her time, because she is going to spend a lot more of it on probating your estate than she could have imagined. She’s going to be doing tasks that she has never done before, and most likely never will do again. There will be additional stress, and especially so precisely because of why you chose her to begin with. She’s the responsible one – with the career and family – who have now grown to demand even more from her than they did when you asked her to do this job at that family gathering. She will sleep less, work more, and feel guilty for the mix of sadness and annoyance she’s feeling about this job that she was honored to do for you that has now become so thankless.