Florida Living Trust – Trustee’s Duty to Inform Beneficiaries

Posted By on August 28, 2009

A Florida revocable trust is an estate plan document where one person, the trustee, holds legal title of specific assets for the benefit of another, the beneficiary, and where the settlor, the person creating the trust, creates the trust for a legal purpose. A trust can only be created for presently existing interests in property – you cannot set up a trust to convey property you don’t yet have (i.e. money you expect to inherit from your mother, who is still alive). And the trust must be set up for an ascertainable legal person/ group (i.e. your children, your spouse, charity, and/or pet).

A Florida trustee owes the named beneficiaries of a trust significant duties. The Trustee must exercise due care and exhibit loyalty, or, specifically, invest trust funds prudently, not favor some beneficiaries over others, not steal from or otherwise misuse trust funds, etc. Furthermore, the trustee must inform the beneficiaries of trust-related matters in accordance with Florida Statute Section 736.0813 of the Florida Uniform Trust Code.

The Florida trust code imposes on the Florida trustee a general obligation to keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed about the administration of the trust, and various specific notice requirements. Florida law allows the settlor to waive the trustee’s general obligation and some but not all of the specific notice requirements. Specifically, you cannot waive the trustee’s obligation to notify the beneficiaries of the existence of the trust or to respond to their reasonable inquiries concerning trust assets. Also, you cannot waive the trustee’s duty to provide the beneficiaries with a copy of the trust instrument upon request. But you can, if you are worried that your beneficiaries may misuse trust information, or if they are too young to understand it, for example, limit the trustee’s disclosures to the beneficiaries by designating a substitute to receive notices, accountings, reports and other disclosures that would otherwise be made directly to them.

Note that the above restrictions on waiver apply only to the settlor; the named beneficiaries may, on their own, waive the trustee’s obligations to them.

If you would like more information about the Florida trustee’s duties to inform, you may either post a comment to this blog, contact me, a Florida Estate Plan Attorney, by email, or call me at (954) 458-8655 and I will be happy to answer your questions. I offer a free initial consultation.

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