Tampa Trust Administration Attorney
Trustees have a special duty to administer trusts ethically and competently. Persons chosen to serve as trustees, however, are most often close family members who do not have the education, training, or experience to deal with matters such as investing in stocks or managing real estate. Trust documents are complex legal instruments that aren’t very enlightening to the average trustee. But mistakes in trust administration can be very costly to the estate and the beneficiaries of the trust, and they can land the trustee in hot water as well.
Strategic Counsel Law Group is here to help. Our Tampa trust administration attorneys can walk you through your role as trustee in managing trust assets and distributing those assets according to the terms of the trust. We also advise and assist beneficiaries who have questions regarding trust administration in Florida. Learn more about trust administration below, and call Strategic Counsel Law Group for answers to your questions.
What are the Responsibilities of a Trustee in Florida?
Trustees are responsible for managing the trust funds and distributing those assets to the beneficiaries. Trustees have what are called “fiduciary duties” to the beneficiaries. This means they must act with loyalty to the beneficiaries while avoiding conflicts of interest or any self-dealing that would enrich the trustee at the expense of the beneficiaries. Sometimes a trustee is also a beneficiary, which can make the situation of trust administration more complex.
Administering a trust requires becoming familiar with the trust document and its terms. Trusts do not all follow the same structure or a standardized distribution scheme. An experienced trust administration lawyer can help you understand the requirements of Florida law and the terms of the trust regarding how trust funds are to be distributed. For instance, rather than distributing all trust funds upon the death of the settlor, the trust might require the trustee to hold on to some of the property in one or more sub-trusts until a triggering event occurs. A common triggering event is that a beneficiary does not receive trust funds until the beneficiary reaches a certain age, such as 21 or 25. A provision like this in a trust might require the trustee to maintain a sub-trust for several years.
In addition to maintaining sub-trusts as required, other common aspects of Florida trust administration include:
- Investing or selling trust property to maximize return on investment for beneficiaries in a prudent manner
- Providing beneficiaries with trust accountings upon request and as required by Florida law
- Giving trust beneficiaries and heirs to the estate timely notice of the trust administration
- Notifying government agencies as required by law
- Preparing required documents
- Paying taxes owed on trust property
- Distributing trust funds and assets to beneficiaries
- Filing required tax returns
Can Trustees Use Lawyers and Accountants for Help in Trust Administration?
Trustees have the role of a fiduciary when it comes to administering the trust and serving the beneficiaries. A fiduciary is someone in a position of trust, as the very name “trustee” implies. Trustees have fiduciary duties and responsibilities to be loyal to the trust. They cannot act in ways that would harm beneficiaries, such as making risky investments, being neglectful in their duties, creating conflicts of interest between themselves and beneficiaries, or self-dealing when it comes to managing trust property.
Trustees can be personally liable for harming the beneficiaries’ interests, even with innocent mistakes. They must know when to get help and get it. Having professional help from a lawyer or accountant is encouraged and is a valid expense that can be paid with trust funds.
Get the Help You Need With Tampa Trust Administration
For help with trust administration in Tampa, call Strategic Counsel Law Group at 813-286-1700 to discuss your needs with a team of conscientious and dedicated estate attorneys who can guide you and assist you throughout your Florida trust administration.