Upon creation of a trust in Florida, a trustee is appointed to manage the assets of the trustor, including investments, of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries who will eventually receive the trust assets.
Fiduciary Duties of a Trustee
Trustees owe various fiduciary duties to the trust and its beneficiaries, including, but not limited to:
- A duty of loyalty to all trust beneficiaries, both current and future beneficiaries.
- A duty to deal impartially with all beneficiaries, balancing the interests of the income beneficiaries against the interests of the future beneficiaries.
- A duty to use the trust property to be productive; i.e., generate income. Trust assets should be used to achieve conservative growth.
- A duty to follow the Prudent Investor Rule, which means the trustee should generally create a trust portfolio that is broadly diversified and invest the property as if it were their own.
- Account to the beneficiaries and keep the beneficiaries informed.
- Keep trust assets separate from their own; i.e., no commingling trust assets with their own personal assets. The trustee needs to keep accurate records of all assets that come in and out of the trust.
- Avoid conflicts of interest and self-dealing. The trustee cannot favor himself as a beneficiary at the expense of any other beneficiary.
Generally speaking, a trustee must act ethically, competently, and reasonably when it comes to trust investments and other trust issues. Absent any advice from an experienced attorney, remember one primary rule: Never place your own interests above the beneficiaries' interest when dealing with trust assets.
Becoming familiar with and adhering to the various trustee duties are by no means a simple or straightforward task, and typically requires the advice of an experienced trust attorney, such as a Florida and Palm Beach County fiduciary representation attorney at Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun. We can advise you as a trustee or act as a fiduciary representative for your trust.
Remedies for Trustees Who Breach Fiduciary Duties to Beneficiaries
There is a wide variety of remedies available against trustees who have potentially breached their fiduciaries, including:
- Accounting Concerns. If trustees fail to perform proper accountings, improperly value assets, or fail to account for all of the assets in the trust, then the beneficiaries may order the trustee to account for any breach of fiduciary responsibility.
- Demand and Receive Payment. Trustees who fail to exercise proper income tax planning can be in breach of their fiduciary duties to manage the trust assets in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
- Order the Removal of the Trustee. A court may remove a trustee for various breaches of fiduciary duties.
- Modify or Terminate the Trust. If structural flaws render the trustee unable to fulfill the grantor's intent, the trustee may have a fiduciary duty to reform the trust or terminate it. Modification of an irrevocable trust under certain circumstances.
Contact a Palm Beach County Fiduciary Representation Attorney if You Are Involved in a Trust Dispute
Fiduciary representation issues often lead to trust disputes and trust litigation, both of which can be hard on both beneficiaries and trustees. At Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun, we have an experienced legal team that can help you with not only fiduciary representation issues, trust disputes, and trust litigation, but also with related areas of Florida law such as asset protection planning, estate planning and administration, estate litigation, trust and trust administration, probate, tax planning, guardianship, mediation, and business entities and transactions.
We can advise you as a trustee or act as an independent fiduciary for any type of trust. For help with fiduciary representation in Florida, contact a Palm Beach County fiduciary representation attorney at Comiter, Singer, Baseman & Braun, either online or by calling us at 561-626-2101 or toll-free at 800-226-1484. We work with clients in Palm Beach County, including Boca Raton and Palm Beach Gardens, and throughout the state of Florida.