I’m in my mid-thirties, something that is rare in the Professional Fiduciary community. We have a running joke in our profession that the typical Fiduciary is a middle-aged to semi-retired woman, on her second career. While that’s not entirely true, it is true that many Fiduciaries are almost as old as the clients they serve and nearing retirement, themselves.
Why are there so few young Fiduciaries in this profession, you may ask? Well, I can only speculate and say based off my observations, but I’d venture to say, in general, that young people simply don’t know about the profession. The Professional Fiduciary business community is very small. The Professional Fiduciaries Bureau of California has issued less than 1,500 licenses since its inception. That’s for the entire state of California! Contrast that to the hundreds of thousands of real estate, accountancy, attorney or other professional licenses issued by the state and you can see just how small our community is.
Another reason for the lack of younger Fiduciaries may be that, generally, young people just aren’t as qualified to serve as Fiduciaries. I don’t know of a single Fiduciary that graduated college and immediately obtained their Fiduciary license. This is because they simply don’t have the prerequisite knowledge and work experience needed to navigate the wide ranging and complex areas of financial and health care management. As Fiduciaries, we wear many hats and must be proficient in or possess a basic understanding of many fields, such as financial management, investing, estate planning, legal terminology, trust and estate administration, local court rules, the probate code, taxation, understanding fiduciary duty and liability, real estate transactions and tenancy laws, record keeping, accounting and bookkeeping, ethics, public benefits, health care management, interacting with difficult personalities, understanding mental health issues and incapacity and so, so much more.
This profession requires such a diverse skill set to really excel. This is why many people become Fiduciaries as a second career and through their association with other Professional Fiduciaries. After they’ve acquired a certain amount of life experience, knowledge and mastery of their own career field, they venture into being a Fiduciary later on in life. Many other lay people experience the need for a Professional Fiduciary because a loved one has passed away and they are named as Trustee or Executor in their family member’s estate plan. Through this “trial by fire,” they gain first hand experience of the profession and move onto becoming Fiduciaries themselves. How ever one eventually becomes a Fiduciary, the common theme among them, is that they all want to help people. With that being said, because Fiduciary work is often a second career for many older people, their previous career experience may or may not alway translate into the necessary skills for success.
I remember, when I first became licensed, and had a meeting with a potential client of a multi-million dollar estate. He was actively seeking a young Fiduciary to name in his estate plan but during the meeting he questioned whether he could trust a 30-something year old to manage his life’s work. This resonated with me and, frankly, I’m not sure I would trust the average 20 or 30 year old with my estate either! Nonetheless, I've had an overwhelmingly positive response from people who value my know-how more than my age. Since then I’ve been appointed as Trustee, Conservator and Administrator of many different types of estates ranging from $300,000 to several million dollars. Though I’m younger, I’ve been working in the trusts and estates legal field since I was 19 years old and this experience has created a sound bedrock of knowledge and has contributed to my success as a Fiduciary.
I receive a lot of referrals for new matters due to my younger age, and I would like to think, also, because of the reputation I’ve built up in the Fiduciary and Legal communities for being capable and knowledgeable in Trust and Estates administration. Many people seek out and, likewise, attorneys recommend a younger Fiduciary to be named in their client’s estate plan because it just make sense. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to pass away (or decline health-wise) before someone that is younger than yourself. Naming a Fiduciary that is similarly aged to yourself may result in that Fiduciary retiring or passing away first. This can result in the Court becoming involved to appoint a Fiduciary to handle your affairs because there is a vacancy in that position. One major goal of a good estate plan is to avoid court involvement altogether. So be sure to interview and really consider all aspects of the Fiduciary’s experience and longevity before you decide to name him or her in your estate plan. If you’re seeking a Fiduciary to name in your estate plan, please contact me to set up a meeting!
I am not a lawyer and the information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice.
It goes without saying that elderly people should have an estate plan in place that plans for incapacity and death, and the eventual distribution of their estate. However, if you are a “younger” person reading this (under age 60) and do not have an estate plan, then I highly suggest you contact an attorney immediately to draft one up. For small estates, your attorney may determine you need only a simple Will and Power of Attorney documents. If you have very little assets but are a parent of minor children you still need a Will to appoint a Guardian for your minor children should anything happen to you. For more moderate to high wealth estates, you may need a more comprehensive Trust and estate plan. Regardless of anyones age or financial status, everyone should have current Power of Attorney documents naming an Agent (or Agents) to act on their behalf for financial and health care decision-making, in the event they cannot do so themselves. If you need a referral to an estate planning attorney, please give me a call!
In all the years I’ve worked in the area of trusts and estates, whether as a paralegal or a Professional Fiduciary, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than a young person experiencing a catastrophic event and no longer being able to care for his or her own needs. Even sadder, is when that person has a family and young children. When we’re young, we like to think we will live forever and the thought that we may no longer be able to take care of ourselves at some point doesn’t even cross our minds. That period of time between being healthy and death is often overlooked. There can be years of physical incapability and mental incapacity. This period of time is why it’s essential to have Power of Attorney documents in place. Young people are not invincible to accidents or health issues and one of the best ways we can protect our families is to plan ahead, so they are not left scrambling, should this occur.
Well drafted Power of Attorney documents will avoid the need for costly and often slow to implement Conservatorships. A Power of Attorney can be effective as of its date of execution or it can be “springing” meaning it becomes effective only upon a qualifying event. This qualifying event is usually the medical diagnosis of mental incapacity by two independent doctors stating your inability to make your own financial or health care decisions. With a Power of Attorney your Agent can act on your behalf almost immediately. Without Powers of Attorney, your family members will have to Petition the Court for Conservatorship of the Estate (to manage your finances) and Conservatorship of the Person (to manage your healthcare). This court involvement is cumbersome and because it involves a hefty Conservatorship paperwork package to be drawn up by an attorney it can more quickly deplete yours or your family’s financial resources. Furthermore, Conservatorships are court supervised during the entire course of their establishment and they require ongoing petitions, paperwork and accountings to be completed and filed by attorneys, further depleting financial resources.
If you do not have a trusted family member or friend, or do not want to burden them with the responsibility, you can name a Professional Fiduciary in your Power of Attorney documents. Please contact me to discuss potentially naming me as your Financial or Health Care Agent in your Power of Attorney documents, and if you’re executing a Will or Trust, naming me as your Executor or Trustee, as well.
I am not a lawyer and the information contained in this article should not be construed as legal advice.
On Wednesday, December 11th, I joined the Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) at St. Paul's Villa to sing Christmas Carols for the residents there. St. Paul's Villa is an Assisted Living and Memory Care facility for seniors, located in Banker's Hill. Approximately 30 fiduciaries and affiliated PFAC members, joined together in song to invite the Christmas Spirit to St. Paul's. The residents sang along and danced in their seat.
In addition to caroling, we brought homemade and store bought treats to share. In speaking, with some of the residents afterwards, they expressed their sincere thanks and appreciation for the event and the delicious cookies! One resident said my cookies were so good, I should enter them into a baking competition! The event was a blessing to all in attendance and it was our joy to bring joy to these sweet souls!
Probate Prom is one of my favorite probate events of the year. It’s an event where probate attorneys and estate planning professionals can gather together for an evening of fun conversations, dinner and dancing. The theme this year was “The 80’s” and I donned an 80’s Working Girl look, complete with big, frizzy hair! This year was my 4th year attending and I was graciously invited to sit with Brierton, Jones & Jones’ table. Jerilyn Jones was honored with the Probate Attorney of the Year Award for her more than 30 years of service in the probate community. It was interesting to hear about how she was a teacher before she became an attorney and all that she’s contributed to our community. It was, also, announced that attorney Judy Bae was just appointed to the bench and is now the Honorable Judge Judy Bae! Speaking of Judges, after years of working in the probate community, I finally shook hands with and met the Honorable Judge Jeffrey Bostwick, one of our 3 San Diego Probate judges. What a fun evening!
I had so much fun at this year’s Annual Professional Fiduciary Association of California (PFAC) Education Conference in Anaheim, CA. Not only did I get to rub elbows with some of the finest fiduciaries in the state (and pick their brains), see old friends from last year’s conference and expand my knowledge base, but this year’s conference was at DISNEYLAND!
My associate and I took the Amtrak up to Anaheim. It was my first time riding a train and I’m already planning my next train trip. The views of the California coast were beautiful and the ride there and back was relaxing.
We stayed at the beautiful Disneyland Resort. This year’s conference sessions included topics relating to the handling of tangible personal property, cyber-security, Special Needs Trust administration, the Regional Center and the CalAble Act, mental illness, estate taxation and ethics.
Between conference sessions, we were able to visit Downtown Disney and California Adventure, to catch the World of Color lights and water show. I won a plush Mickey Mouse stuffy and my daughter was very excited to receive Mickey to complete her mouse family.
Next year’s PFAC Education Conference is in San Francisco! Can’t wait!
The holidays have a way of prompting you to consider what truly matters in life...
This Christmas, I find myself so grateful for my family, friends, colleagues and, of course, our clients. I'm proud to be a part of a wonderful team that truly makes a difference in people's lives. Thank you for the confidence you've placed in our office!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Jennifer and the Kriebel Team!
P.S. I love receiving this type of "correspondence" from clients! Little notes of appreciation such as this mean more to us than words can express!
Kriebel & Associates attended the Probate Attorneys of San Diego (PASD) Annual Probate Prom last Friday, October 26th. This year's theme was Disco! Hundreds of attorneys and other estate planning professionals disco danced the night away to the tunes of Those Radio Thieves. The highlight of the evening was when Probate Judge Julia Kelety surprised us with her participation in a choreographed disco dance! Thank you to PASD and event sponsor Hearthstone Private Wealth Management for a wonderful evening!
The Hearthstone Private Wealth Management table! A great group of attorneys, CPAs, fiduciaries and investment professionals!
Jennifer Feehan and Rob Dieringer
Saturday, October 20th was a beautiful, sunny day and perfect for a stroll through Balboa Park. Team LEAD4theCure (pictured below) helped raised $14,000 for Alzheimer's San Diego, while enjoying the company of fellow colleagues. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this cause!