Leaving a lasting legacy is a goal for most of us. For many of us, our focus is providing for our family, most often our spouse, children and grandchildren. These individuals are also the ones who we most often appoint to important positions in our estate planning documents. For a variety of reasons, however, not everyone has close family members in their lives who are well-suited to serve in these roles. For those who don’t, it can be a challenge to find someone to fill these important positions.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are options for you to consider. Professional fiduciaries, such as banks or trust companies, can act as executors or trustees in a will. The professional fiduciaries employ individuals who specialize in administering estates and trusts. Banks and trust companies are also regulated, depending on how they are chartered, by the federal or the state government. The regulators audit accounts to make sure that the institutions and their employees are fulfilling their fiduciary duties to their clients. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the institutions charge for their services.
Another option available is certain non-profit corporations that provide community support services through fee-for-service contractual arrangements. They are fully insured and bonded, with professional staffs to serve the needs of their clients. These corporations can provide power-of-attorney services that may cover financial or fiduciary matters, personal decision-making or medical decision-making. For someone who is interested in utilizing these services, you submit an application for the corporation’s review, and depending on your situation, the corporation agrees to serve as your agent. With these non-profit corporations being fully insured and bonded, and registered with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, those who use these community support services can have some reassurance that their best interests are being safeguarded.
Finally, you can think beyond your family to your social network. For example, sometimes a trusted friend, a church connection, or member of another social circle may be suited to step in and serve your needs in these ways.
When you do not have someone to appoint as your fiduciary, it can feel challenging, however it is a good opportunity to look around you and think strategically about the people in your life who might be suited to serve. If you feel more comfortable, you can also look for professional help through a company or organization who specializes in this area. Regardless of who you appoint, their responsibility is to carry out your wishes in good faith, to ultimately help your legacy last long beyond your lifetime.