More and more people in Florida are using trusts to avoid probate. A Florida trust contains the name of the person, a trustee or successor trustee, who will manage the trust if the testator is unable or no longer willing. The trustee, takes control of trust assets upon the death of the person who made the trust. This generally does not require court approval.
While taking care of trust assets is the primary responsibility of the trustee, there are many other duties and responsibilities that can be expected, whether these are dictated by the terms of the trust or by Florida’s Trust Code. It is often the case where a trustee is also named as a personal representative in a person’s will, which carries similar but separate legal duties and responsibilities associated with probate administration.
Whether you are named as a personal representative or as a trustee, you are in charge of property that belongs to other people, beneficiaries and creditors, whom you owe various duties and responsibilities as set forth in the trust and Florida’s Trust Code, which is contained in Chapter 736 of the Florida statutes.
First and foremost, the trustee has what’s called a “fiduciary duty,” to always act in the best interests of the trust estate, and never in his or her own interest. Typically, as a trustee your basic duties include:
- Preparing the necessary documents to notify beneficiaries and creditors that you are accepting your appointment as a trustee;
- Determining and locating all property and assets that are held in the trust;
- Paying all debts and expenses as well as distributing principal and income as directed by the trust;
- Transferring trust property, or the proceeds of its sale to the appropriate beneficiaries named in the trust document.
More complex trusts, such as those established for the care of a minor or disabled adults, can carry additional investment responsibilities expected of a prudent investor.
In addition to these general duties, Florida trustees must comply with the duties and requirements set forth in Florida’s Trust Code, Chapter 736, Part VII, Duties and Powers of Trustees.
If you have been named Trustee in a Florida Trust and need assistance please contact the Law Offices of Christopher P. Taylor, P.A. to speak with an experienced Florida Trust administration attorney today.