What is Trust Administration?
Trust Administration occurs after a person dies and involves taking formal legal steps to make it possible to transfer the deceased’s person’s assets and to finalize all the legal issues that have occurred after their passing away. If a person passes away and had previously set up a Trust, then most likely a Trust Administration is necessary. The Trust might be referred to as a Living Trust, Revocable Trust, Irrevocable Trust, or some variation of that name. If your loved one passed away and you know that they had a Trust prior to their passing, then we can help you determine if Trust Administration is necessary.
How is Trust Administration Different from Probate Administration?
Generally speaking, Trust Administration is done without involving the courts and a judge whereas Probate Administration must be done through the probate court system. Probate Administration is done when a person died without a Trust in place. Probate Administration is also done even when the person had a Last Will and Testament. Most people do not realize that but unfortunately, having a Will does not avoid probate. Probate is generally only avoided when a person had a properly funded Trust in place prior to passing or the assets were jointly owned.
Who Handles the Trust Administration?
Trust Administrations are handled by the person’s Trustee. When a person is alive, they generally name themselves as the primary Trustee. They are in charge of their own Trust. However, they generally name a Successor Trustee who is in charge of managing the Trust after they pass away. It is this Successor Trustee who will work with the Trusts and Estate Attorney to administer the Trust.
What Happens During the Trust Administration Process?
When a person dies, his or her assets do not pass automatically to his or her heirs and beneficiaries, except in limited cases such as with jointly owned property. Instead, there are certain steps that much be taken such as paying taxes, having the property valued, changing titles or deeds, and making distributions to individuals and charities. Every Trust Administration is different because no two Trusts are completely identical. For example, one Trust may require that a piece of real estate be sold whereas another Trust may simply require that the Trustee transfer the property to the person’s heirs without ordering an appraisal and actually selling the home.
Ultimately, an experienced Trusts and Estate attorney will represent the Trustee to ensure that the Trust is properly administer per the terms of the Trust and in strict compliance of the laws where the Trust was created and is being administered.
What are the Duties and Obligations of the Trustee?
Florida Statute 736.0804 states the following: “A trustee shall administer the trust as a prudent person would, by considering the purposes, terms, distribution requirements, and other circumstances of the trust. In satisfying this standard, the trustee shall exercise reasonable care, skill, and caution.”
Remember, it is the Trustee who is responsible for administering the Trust per the terms of the Trust itself. In Florida, the law requires that “[u]pon acceptance of a trusteeship, the trustee shall administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and purposes and the interest of the beneficiaries…” See Florida Statute 736.0801. The Trustee’s primary duty is his or her duty of loyalty to the beneficiaries. This means that they cannot administer the Trust in a way that is more beneficial to the Trustee than to the beneficiaries.
Who Should Get Help with the Trust Administration Process?
Have you been named as Trustee in a person’s Trust and now that person has passed away leaving you with the responsibility of administering the Trust? If so, then you are going to want to seek the assistance of an experienced Trusts and Estates Attorney. Even seemingly simple Trusts can turn complicated quickly. All too often the Trustee who was doing their best, finds themselves being dragged into a legal battle by unhappy beneficiaries who think the Trustee is doing his or her job incorrectly. Our Firm can help you administer the Trust and make sure all the legal requirements of administering a Trust are followed so that you are not liable for improperly managing the Trust.
Please give our Team a call at 305-456-3255 to discuss how our Trusts and Estates Attorneys can help you through the Trust Administration process.