Council on Aging Fiduciary Services
Council on Aging has been providing financial services to older adults in Sonoma County for over 50 years and our commitment to excellence, integrity, and client service over the years is unwavering. Our Financial Services Team is made up of our Director, Professional Licensed Fiduciaries, Financial Case Managers, Record Manager, and Accounts Coordinator. Our team works closely together to ensure your estate plan is implemented correctly and your final wishes are carried out as you had intended.
A fiduciary is a person or agency, like COA, who holds a legal relationship of trust with another person(s). A fiduciary is responsible for prudently taking care of money or other assets and is charged with acting at all times for the sole benefit and interest of the person(s) who has hired the fiduciary. A fiduciary provides aid, advice, and protection over these assets when an individual is no longer able to do so for themselves.
The state of California requires professional fiduciaries to be licensed, bonded, and insured. They are also required to pass an examination after completing 30 hours of approved educational courses and 15 hours of continuing education each year for license renewal.
Our professional fiduciaries provide critical services to Sonoma County seniors including basic bill paying, investment management oversight, and filing tax returns. We also manage personal matters for clients including daily care, housing, and medical needs.
One way in which we act as a fiduciary is through the role of the Successor Trustee. A
trustee is legally appointed by a trust document and is the person who administers any assets
that were placed in the name of the trust. The successor trustee typically steps in after the
grantor (the person creating the trust) becomes incapacitated or dies.
If an individual becomes incapacitated and has named COA as their successor trustee, our
fiduciaries will then become responsible for overseeing the trust assets and ensuring they are
being used to support our client’s needs and wishes even though they are no longer able to make
these decisions themselves.
The most common way we act as fiduciary is through Estate Settlement. In this case,
we have been named as the successor trustee and the grantor has died. It is then our role to
complete the estate administration by valuing and appraising all assets on the date of death and
establishing cost basis, pay debts and sell property as appropriate, prepare and file fiduciary tax
returns, and ultimately distribute the assets to the remainder beneficiaries.
Special Needs Trust Trustee
Council on Aging can also be named as the Trustee of a Special Needs Trust (SNT). A
SNT is most commonly created by a parent or guardian for the benefit of disabled children or
dependent adults. These individuals are living but unable to manage their own assets and affairs
and are likely receiving government assistance which they would be disqualified from by the
inheritance of significant assets. Special Needs Trust administration requires a higher level of
expertise and oversight and we are proud to offer this service to our clients.
Durable Power of Attorney
The DPOA is an important document in your Estate Planning process but deciding whom to name
as your agent may be a challenging decision. The DPOA allows your agent to act on your behalf for all financial decisions, once you’ve become incapacitated. It allows the agent to engage in legal contracts, such as hiring a caregiving agency. The agent is also responsible for filing your income tax returns, among other financial obligations.
Council on Aging is available to act in the role of DPOA for our clients. We apply our fiduciary
responsibility to ensure decisions are made based on your wishes and in your best interest.
Advanced Health Care Directive
The AHCD is another important document in your Estate Planning process and deciding whom to
name as your agent may be even more important of a decision than that of whom to name for your DPOA. The AHCD allows your agent to act on your behalf for all health care and medical decisions, once you’ve become incapacitated. The directive typically allows you to list your wishes in the document and then it is the legal responsibility of your agent to carry out your wishes.
Council on Aging is available to act in the role of AHCD for our clients. We apply our fiduciary
responsibility to ensure decisions are made based on your wishes and in your best interest. We will
consult with family members or loved ones as well if requested.
A Conservatorship is a protector appointed by the courts to manage the financial affairs
(conservator of the estate) or daily life (conservator of the person) of an individual due to cognitive
● As the Conservator of the Estate, COA assumes legal responsibilities over the financial
affairs of that individual. We are responsible for locating and taking control of assets,
managing and protecting those assets, paying bills, and providing regular accounting of
those assets to the court.
● As the Conservator of the Person, COA assumes legal responsibilities over the personal
affairs of that individual. We are responsible for supporting their basic needs including
food, clothing, shelter, and making medical decisions.
Even with the best of intentions, sometimes our loved ones fail to put an effective estate plan in
place. Once they lose capacity, it is too late to draft estate planning documents. The option of petitioning the court to appoint an individual or agency, like COA is sometimes the only option. If you have a loved one who has lost capacity and needs help managing their affairs, COA may be able to help.
Financial Services are fee-based programs and fees vary depending on the services you are receiving.
To learn more about how the Financial Services team can support you and your loved ones, contact our Financial Services Director, Mia Bennett, (707) 525-0143 x108;
We look forward to working with you!