Helping Trustees Fulfill Their Responsibilities With Experience and Efficiency
At Ginsberg Shulman, our Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton based trust administration attorneys, work with individuals and families who need a steady hand and sound guidance to help them through the trust administration process. With experience and efficiency, clarity and compassion, we provide seasoned counsel for trustees throughout South Florida, assisting them with every issue involved in trust administration, including trust modification and termination.
We focus on administering trusts in a way that not only follows the law and fulfills the decedent’s wishes but also alleviates the stress, pressures, and burdens that trustees often experience in their roles. If trust administration responsibilities have been placed upon your shoulders, we welcome the opportunity to provide you with assistance, confidence, and peace of mind.
Trust Administration Responsibilities in Florida
Many people establish a revocable or irrevocable trust as part of their comprehensive estate planning because it offers many advantages for heirs and beneficiaries, including avoiding the costly and lengthy probate process. With a revocable trust, which becomes irrevocable upon death, the decedent appoints a trustee who becomes responsible for gathering, managing, and distributing the trust’s assets according to the wishes expressed in the trust document.
While court involvement may be sidestepped with a trust, the trustee’s involvement in fulfilling the complex legal responsibilities of trust administration very much remains.
Under Florida estate planning law, all trustees must “administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and purposes and the interests of the beneficiaries, and in accordance with” the law. “Doing your best” or failing to understand the full scope of your trustee duties won’t spare you from potentially serious consequences if you don’t fulfill Florida’s very specific and lengthy list of obligations for trustees or otherwise act in a way contrary to the trust documents or the law.
A trustee’s responsibilities arise immediately after the settlor’s or testator’s death. The tasks suddenly put on their plates can feel overwhelming for already busy individuals. Among those tasks are:
- Gathering and assuming control of trust assets. This can include:
- Implementing business succession plans.
- Collecting and distributing personal assets.
- Transferring bank and other financial accounts.
- Conveying title to real estate.
- Transferring vehicle titles.
- Identifying and notifying beneficiaries of the trust’s existence, the identity of the settlor, the right to request a copy of the trust instrument, and the right to accountings.
- Determining debts and other claims against the estate and paying legitimate claims.
- Contesting or settling disputed claims against the estate, including in litigation.
- Managing the estate assets.
- Calculating and paying all taxes.
- Preparing and filing tax returns for the trust.
- Furnishing the beneficiaries with a trust accounting each year, upon the termination of the trust or a change of trustee.
- Providing beneficiaries with relevant information about the trust’s assets and liabilities.
- Keeping accurate records of the trust’s administrative expenses.
- Distributing the estate to beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust document.
Satisfying each obligation takes a lot of work and can quickly become a full-time job. Conversely, not doing as the law and trust require can easily lead to big-time problems.
Ginsberg Shulman helps trustees with the entire range of tasks involved in irrevocable estate administration. Our attorneys will draft the documents required to set up asset collection and distribution and help prepare, review, and present required trust accountings. We also work closely with trustees to ensure that any discretionary distributions they make are prudent and proper.
When appropriate or needed, we leverage the talents of other highly qualified professionals such as accountants and financial advisors to complement our legal guidance, protect trust assets, minimize liabilities, and guide trustees in financial and investment decision-making.
Aiding the Beneficiaries
As a trust beneficiary, it may seem like you have a passive role in the administration of the trust. After all, the trust exists to provide you with the fruits of the testator’s generosity. In turn, the trustee’s role is to always act in your best interests and those of any co-beneficiaries when fulfilling their responsibilities under the trust documents.
But not every trustee is up to the task of managing a complex and multifaceted trust. Even with the best intentions, a trustee who lacks the experience or resources to ensure the beneficiaries receive all they are entitled to can make costly mistakes that deprive beneficiaries of assets and rights. Sometimes, a trustee’s failings are anything but accidental, and they may make decisions or take actions in their best interests rather than those of the people they were entrusted to serve.
That is why trust beneficiaries should play an active and attentive role in trust administration. But many beneficiaries may not fully understand their rights or recognize mismanagement or malfeasance when it occurs. They may suspect problems but not know what to do about them.
At Ginsberg Shulman, we work closely with trust beneficiaries like you to ensure your interests are protected and that the trustee executes their responsibilities as required under the law and the terms of the trust. We explain complicated aspects of trust administration in a clear, understandable way. We examine accountings and other documents reflecting the trustee’s management and distribution of trust assets to determine whether they are doing their job as they should. And if we uncover shortcomings, mismanagement, or misconduct, we will take all actions necessary to protect our clients and the assets that are rightfully theirs.
For trust beneficiaries throughout South Florida, our trust administration attorneys provide comprehensive representation, including:
- Reviewing and explaining any pertinent trusts, wills, and other estate documents.
- Conducting a forensic review of all accountings and other financial records relating to the trust and its assets.
- Identifying any incidents or patterns of mismanagement or misconduct by the trustee.
- Corresponding with the trustee and their attorney.
- Pursuing court action when necessary or advisable to recover the value of lost or mismanaged assets and prevent further losses.
- Seeking removal or replacement of the current trustee.
- Negotiating and settling disputes between the beneficiaries and the trustee or among beneficiaries.
Ginsberg Shulman: Ft. Lauderdale Trust Administration Attorneys
The expansive responsibilities of trust administration, and the time, effort, and knowledge needed to fulfill those responsibilities can be unmanageable for those whose lives are already full of other obligations. A trustee’s sincere desire to do the right things, while admirable, simply isn’t enough in many cases.
That is where we come in. The Ft. Lauderdale trust administration attorneys at Ginsberg Shulman provide trustees with the guidance, insights, resources, and hard work required to satisfy their duties and wrap up the trust’s affairs efficiently and conclusively. Even trustees with experience in the role stand to benefit from our sound judgment and strategic counsel.
If you face the important and daunting task of administering a trust in South Florida, we invite you to reach out to us. We’ll take the time to answer your questions, explain what needs to happen and why, and take the laboring oar throughout the entire trust administration lifecycle. Our attorneys are committed to providing a comfortable and comforting client experience that recognizes both the very personal and very practical aspects of trust administration.
Please contact Ginsberg Shulman today to learn more about how we can help you with your trust administration needs.