Let’s say your former spouse, a parent or another loved one died and left you money…any amount of money in a will, a trust, a revocable or irrevocable trust or in some other fashion. After you take the appropriate amount of time to grieve, you should immediately move to hire a probate attorney or a probate lawyer to carefully examine the facts and….
REPRESENT YOUR INTERESTS AS A BENEFICIARY OF THE DECEDENT’S ESTATE!
Far too often, beneficiaries sit back and incorrectly assume that all of their rights are being protected…and the wishes of the deceased are being respected. While this is often the case, this is not always what happens…and the results can be devastating to beneficiaries.
One of the more common situations where the wishes of the deceased are not respected occurs when a deceased leaves a trust, but the trust is not administered in the way Florida law requires. Florida has very specific laws that govern how a trust SHOULD be administered, and provides very specific laws that every trustee is required to follow. It’s all laid out in the very specific requirements found in Chapter 736, Florida Statutes, Florida’s Trust Code.
At WeidnerLaw, we go far beyond providing what the statutes require…we also include detailed procedural information in our site, The Florida Probate Rules…which you can find here!
Focusing carefully for a moment on the obligations Florida’s Trust Code imposes on Trustees of trusts, the Code requires, as an example….that the Trustee provide detailed accounting within 60 days of accepting the role of trustee…and the Trustee must provide detailed accountings to each beneficiary on at least an annual basis:
736.0813 Duty to inform and account.—The trustee shall keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.
(1) The trustee’s duty to inform and account includes, but is not limited to, the following:(a) Within 60 days after acceptance of the trust, the trustee shall give notice to the qualified beneficiaries of the acceptance of the trust, the full name and address of the trustee, and that the fiduciary lawyer-client privilege in s. 90.5021 applies with respect to the trustee and any attorney employed by the trustee.(b) Within 60 days after the date the trustee acquires knowledge of the creation of an irrevocable trust, or the date the trustee acquires knowledge that a formerly revocable trust has become irrevocable, whether by the death of the settlor or otherwise, the trustee shall give notice to the qualified beneficiaries of the trust’s existence, the identity of the settlor or settlors, the right to request a copy of the trust instrument, the right to accountings under this section, and that the fiduciary lawyer-client privilege in s. 90.5021 applies with respect to the trustee and any attorney employed by the trustee.(c) Upon reasonable request, the trustee shall provide a qualified beneficiary with a complete copy of the trust instrument.(d) A trustee of an irrevocable trust shall provide a trust accounting, as set forth in s. 736.08135, from the date of the last accounting or, if none, from the date on which the trustee became accountable, to each qualified beneficiary at least annually and on termination of the trust or on change of the trustee.(e) Upon reasonable request, the trustee shall provide a qualified beneficiary with relevant information about the assets and liabilities of the trust and the particulars relating to administration.
But far too often, this information is not provided….and beneficiaries are deprived of critical information that can have a dramatic impact on their lives and on the lives of their loved ones. The failure to provide an accurate annual accounting is just one of the many reasons why beneficiaries should hire their own attorney….and take immediate steps to protect their own interests!