Since you have been named to manage money or property for someone else as that person’s agent, you have a special relationship with that person. Texas law calls that relationship a fiduciary relationship, and you are the fiduciary. As Martina’s fiduciary, you owe her a high duty of good faith, fair dealing, honest performance, and strict accountability. The law requires you to manage Martina’s money and property for her benefit, not yours. It does not matter if you are managing a lot of money or a little. It does not matter if you are a family member or not.
The role of a fiduciary carries with it legal responsibilities. When you act as a fiduciary for Martina, you have four basic duties that you must keep in mind:
- Act only in Martina’s best interest.
- Manage Martina’s money and property carefully.
- Keep Martina’s money and property separate from yours.
- Keep good records and communicate your actions.
As a fiduciary, you must be diligent, trustworthy, honest, and act in good faith. If you do not meet these standards, you could be removed as a fiduciary, sued, or have to repay money. It is even possible that the police or sheriff could investigate you and you could go to jail. That’s why it’s always important to remember: It’s not your money!
Different types of fiduciaries exist.
In your role as agent, you may act as or deal with other types of fiduciaries.
These may include:
Trustees of a trust: Someone names them to manage money and property.
Representative payees or, for veterans, VA fiduciaries: A government agency names them to manage government money that is paid to someone, like Social Security or VA benefits.
Guardians: A court names them to manage money and property for someone who needs help.
Supporters under a supported decision-making agreement: Someone names them to help make decisions regarding money and property.
We have additional guides in our toolkit that explain the duties of these fiduciaries.