Your opinion about a fiduciary's mistake

About 10 years ago, my wife Susan (not her real name) and I engaged a fiduciary to handle our trust after we die. The fiduciary is licensed and certified and has excellent references. About 5 years ago my wife died, although I now realize that I neglected to tell this to the fiduciary at the time. Recently I made a small change to my trust and, still not remembering that I hadn’t told her about my wife’s death, sent a copy of the trust amendment to her.

Today I got an email from her confirming that she received the amendment; and she said “All info was reviewed and understood. Please give my best to Susan.” At this point I realized I hadn’t told her about the death. But something bothers me – the trust amendment that I sent her begins with a numbered list of facts. Item #3 is “On (date), Susan MyLastName died.” Items #4 and #5 relate some consequences of her death. This is all on the first page. I’m baffled how someone could do even a cursory skim of this document and not notice this.

I’m not sure how worried I should be about this lapse. I guess I’m having a hard time understanding exactly what caused it. I’m sure she didn’t just lie when she said she reviewed the document. So just a lack of attention to detail? That’s a pretty big detail to miss. I’m not sure what to say to her about it. I don’t want to sour the relationship, but I don’t think I can just ignore her overlooking this in a document she said she reviewed. I’m not sure this single incident warrants dropping her entirely either. What would you do?

I think you’re thinking about this too hard. She probably had a staffer read the amendment and go through some basic checks to make sure everything is kosher.

But if it’s bothering you, it would be perfectly fine to call her office and ask to make sure that they’re aware that your wife has died, and that everything regarding the trust is still OK.

Yeah, Don’t worry. When all the facts sweat out, everything will be okay.

Find a new fiduciary.

Clearly, she did not “review & understand” the document, as she claimed. And if she had a staffer do it, that person also didn’t do a good job. Lack of attention to detail is a pretty major failing for a fiduciary.

Find a new fiduciary.

Clearly, she did not “review & understand” the document, as she claimed. And if she had a staffer do it, that person also didn’t do a good job. Lack of attention to detail is a pretty major failing for a fiduciary.

I would have replied to the fiduciary, “Give my best to Susan” with:

I’m sorry, did you not read my list of facts? As I indicated in Fact #3, Susan died on //__.

And await her next response.

This seems like the best option, tbh. See what her response would be. And if she says, I’m sorry about that - then you can ask her if she reviewed your amendment in detail, or was it an associate.

Yes to these.

It bothers me a lot that you said this:

I don’t understand this thinking at all.

A friend of mine just got her tax paperwork back from her tax preparer, which she went over carefully. It is appropriate to do this. She saw that the tax preparer had neglected to take into consideration a $5,500 tax credit that my friend was entitled to for installing solar panels. She called the tax guy and he was grateful to have this pointed out and fixed it immediately. Should my friend have held back for fear of “souring” the relationship (which sounds like code for “hurting his feelings”)?

P.S. I’m very sorry for your loss. After my husband died, I couldn’t handle any paperwork for a long time. That part of my brain had ceased to function. :frowning: