A fiduciary as defined by New York’s Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law § 1-2.7 is a “personal representative” as designated by the creator of the document, or designated by the court. Fiduciaries include agents under a Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy, an Executor, Administrator, Trustee, and/or Guardian, amongst others.
A fiduciary has an obligation to act in accordance with the Principal’s wishes – whether that is a decedent or incapacitated person – and if the Principal’s wishes are unknown, then in his/her best interests.
A fiduciary stands in the shoes of the person that he/she represents and is held accountable for of his/her actions.
The most common responsibilities for the most common fiduciaries are listed below:
Power of Attorney – properly managing and administering the Principal’s financial and legal affairs. This may include paying bills, instituting a law suit on the Principal’s behalf, or representing them with Medicaid or Social Security administration.
Health Care Proxy – is responsible for making medical decisions based on the Principal’s wishes.
Executor – is responsible for identifying and collecting the decedent’s assets, depositing them into an estate account and distributing according to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament.
Administrator – is responsible for identifying and collecting the decedent’s assets, depositing them into an estate account and distributing according to the laws of intestacy.
Trustee – is responsible for managing the Trust’s assets and distributing them in accordance to the Trust terms.
Guardian – may be responsible for properly managing and administering an underage or incapacitated individual’s financial and legal affairs, as well as making health care decisions.