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Estate Planning – Selecting your Fiduciary

Estate Planning – Selecting your Fiduciary

By Attorney Robert T. Brooks July 3, 2019

Who should manage your funds?  The answer is simple… it should be you or a responsible individual/entity of your choosing. 

I recently drafted a Trust and other estate planning documents for a client.  Per my instructions she was trying to retitle certain assets into the name of the Trust.  Unfortunately, one of the banks she has investments in made it very difficult for her to accomplish this task and even appointed themselves as her investment advisor, without her knowledge.

My client was still competent and had all the proper documents executed to allow the individuals she chose to manage her assets if she was unable to, but one employee at the bank had their own opinion on who should manage her funds and took it upon themselves to choose for her.

My client became aware of this problem when she went to log in to her investment account and she was denied access.  She and her brother had self-managed the investment account for years, so this was very concerning.  She contacted the bank representative and was advised that her account was no longer a self-managed account and that the bank (and particularly this one individual) was now in control of the account.  She asked who gave the authorization for this change and no acceptable answer was provided.

My client had to file a grievance against the bank, particularly its investment side, through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). After filing the complaint, it was amazing to see how quickly her accounts were retitled as she had requested months ago, and her investment account was changed back to being self-managed.

The point of this story is that you get to choose who manages your assets.  If you are incapacitated, then hopefully you have appointed a Power of Attorney for this purpose.  Please make sure that the person you choose is trustworthy and financially smart, as they are the one who is protecting you and your assets if something like this happens to you while you are incapacitated.

I would say that experiences like the one described in this blog are probably uncommon, but it is always better to be aware and prepared for them if they arise.  Please contact us to make sure that you have the proper documents in place to protect you and your family.

Heritage Law


With over thirty years of combined experience, we proudly serve the Virginia Peninsula, the Middle Peninsula, and Williamsburg. Our goal is to protect the personal and financial relationships that support your family. This includes preparation for times when you may be incapacitated and making arrangements for your family in the event of your death.