Some of the terminology surrounding estate planning can be confusing. However, most of the terms you hear can be explained quite easily. Fiduciary is one such term and it simply means a person who has the responsibility of administering an estate for someone who has died. Depending on specific circumstances, a fiduciary may also be known as an executor or an administrator.

Essentially, a fiduciary is responsible for gathering the property or assets of an individual and making sure these assets are passed to the people or entities specified in the deceased person’s estate documentation. The fiduciary is also responsible for paying the deceased’s debts and other financial obligations. Filing tax returns on the estate is also a critical duty the estate fiduciary must perform. In some cases, the fiduciary will also be responsible for filing the deceased’s income taxes as well.

Accuracy is very important when managing an estate for someone who has died. This means the fiduciary must be sure that he or she has a complete listing of the deceased’s personal property and real property. The assets should be described well and appraised by a qualified party to determine what their fair market value was at the time of the deceased’s death.

Anyone can be appointed as the fiduciary for an estate, but it is important to make sure the person is up to this considerable task. Many New York residents choose to have an attorney fill the role of fiduciary due to their experience handling estate matters. Please browse our legal website if you would like additional details about the role of fiduciaries, executors and trustees.