What is a fiduciary?
A fiduciary is someone who manages money or property for someone else. When you are named a fiduciary, you are required by law to manage the person’s money and property for their benefit, not yours.
For example, a friend of yours may name you her fiduciary through a power of attorney (POA). This means that you are responsible for her finances if she becomes sick or injured. As a fiduciary, you should remember the four basic duties you have:
- Act only in her best interest. Because you are dealing with your friend’s money and property, your duty is to make decisions that are best for her, not you.
- Manage her money and property carefully. As your friend’s fiduciary, you will have important financial responsibilities and must carry them out with care. You might pay bills, oversee bank accounts, and pay for things she needs. You might also make investments, pay taxes, collect rent or unpaid debts, and get insurance for her, if needed.
- Keep her money and property separate. Never mix your friend’s money or property with your own or someone else’s. Confused records can get you in trouble with government agencies, like adult protective services, and the police.
- Keep good records. You must keep true and complete records of your friend’s money and property or you could face legal consequences.
There are other types of fiduciaries besides those named under power of attorney. For example, guardians of property and trustees also are fiduciaries. For more information on your role as a fiduciary check out our guides to managing someone else’s money.