When it comes to estate planning and trust management, the role of a trustee cannot be overstated. As the individual
charged with managing a trust, a trustee must adhere to specific duties and responsibilities defined under Florida law.
Whether you are a trustee, a beneficiary, or someone involved in the estate planning process, understanding the duties
of a trustee is crucial. Not adhering to these responsibilities can lead to legal repercussions and complications in
the Florida trust administration. By the end of this article, you will have a basic understanding of trustee duties,
as defined by Florida statutes, and how a
trust administration attorney in Sunrise, FL can help.
DUTY TO ADMINISTER TRUST PRUDENTLY
As a cornerstone of trust management, the duty to administer the trust prudently is explicitly laid out in Section
736.0804 of the Florida Trust Code. This duty requires trustees to exercise the same level of care, skill, and caution
as would a “prudent person” dealing with the property of another.
What does this mean in practical terms? A trustee should diligently invest trust assets, ensure timely distributions
as specified in the trust agreement, and consult experts when needed. For example, if the trust holds real estate, the
trustee must make sure the property is maintained, taxes are paid, and any income is collected and distributed according
to the trust’s terms.
DUTY OF LOYALTY AND IMPARTIALITY
Defined in Section 736.0802 of the Florida Trust Code, the duty of loyalty obliges a trustee to prioritize the
beneficiaries’ interests above all else, even above the trustee’s own interests. Trustees must avoid
transactions that could lead to conflicts of interest, or that could otherwise compromise their ability to manage
the trust objectively and exclusively for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
For trusts with multiple beneficiaries, impartiality is essential (Section 736.0803). The trustee must not favor
one beneficiary over another unless the trust document explicitly provides for such preferential treatment. Therefore,
when making distributions or decisions impacting beneficiaries, the trustee must strive for an equitable approach that
considers the needs and entitlements of all parties involved.
DUTY TO ACCOUNT AND INFORM
Transparency is essential in trust management, as highlighted in Sections 736.0813 and 736.08135 of the Florida Trust
Code. Trustees are mandated to keep precise records of all trust activities, including asset acquisitions, disbursements,
and investment performance. In addition, trustees must provide regular accounting to beneficiaries. This usually involves
annual statements that detail the trust’s financial status and activities, though more frequent reporting may be
required based on the trust’s terms or at the request of a beneficiary. Beneficiaries must also be informed of
significant changes that could impact their interests, such as changes in the trust’s value or modifications to
CONSULTING WITH FLORIDA TRUST ADMINISTRATION ATTORNEYS
Fulfilling the role of a trustee in Florida comes with numerous responsibilities that require a deep understanding of
Florida law and the specifics of
trust administration. From the duty to administer the trust prudently to the requirement for transparency and impartiality,
trustees are held to a high standard of conduct.
Given the complexities and legal obligations associated with being a trustee, it’s advisable to consult Florida trust
administration attorneys. A trust administration attorney in Sunrise, FL, for instance, can provide region-specific advice and
help you navigate local laws and regulations.
If you are a trustee, or are considering taking on this role, it’s crucial to consult professionals well-versed in
Florida trust administration to ensure you’re fulfilling your legal and ethical obligations. Contact us today for a
consultation to ensure you are on the right track.