If you were appointed as trustee to a trust that has recently become active, you might be surprised at how many hoops you need to jump through before the estate is settled. Fortunately, our legal team has a wealth of experience in proper administration to protect trustees from lawsuits and losses.
Benefits of Hiring Lawyer for Trust Administration
While the trustee is responsible for completing all of the trust administration tasks on time and in accordance with the law, there’s no rule that says you have to do it all yourself. Involving an attorney, accountant, or another professional can prevent errors and make each step of the process more efficient.
Our trust administration lawyers can help in many ways, especially if:
- It’s your first time as a trustee. A trustee’s duties are as varied as they are complicated. You will need a basic understanding of Florida trust and estate laws, excellent bookkeeping skills, and sound financial discipline. You will also need to meet filing deadlines for notices and paperwork to keep the administration on track.
- You’re not sure what’s included in the trust. The trust creator should have familiarized you with its provisions and property. However, outdated trusts may list assets that are difficult to track down, have already been dissolved, or are jointly owned by multiple parties. We can help track down any missing assets (such as life insurance policies, heirlooms, or investments) and determine whether they were transferred correctly into the trust before the creator’s passing.
- You’ve served as a trustee, but not on this scale. Trustee duties vary with the scale and type of trust to be administered. A small trust closed within six months is far less stressful and time-consuming than a trust that makes large, ongoing distributions to heirs. Our attorneys can take legal matters off your plate and give you the necessary information to make intelligent decisions about trust assets.
- Your actions as the trustee are being questioned. Heirs who are getting anxious about their inheritances may assume that you are to blame for procedural delays. Beneficiaries may ask you to provide an accounting of the trust or threaten to remove you from duty in favor of appointing another trustee. A lawyer can prevent your removal by providing legally-required information and dealing with heirs on your behalf.
- You need help managing trust assets. All of your actions regarding trust funds must be completely transparent and independent of your own finances. Even if it simplifies the process, you are prohibited from putting trust assets into your own accounts (or vice versa). You are also prohibited from using trust assets for your benefit or making imprudent or risky investments. Finally, you are responsible for keeping and creating accurate reports of trust finances and filing the trust’s tax returns.
- The trust provides funds for legal and financial assistance. Trusts often allow their funds to cover the cost of an attorney to safeguard and grow the assets for the future benefit of the heirs. If your trustee duties demand too much time and effort, you could resign from the post and let the next successor trustee step in. You could also appoint a corporate trustee to manage investments, distributions, and record-keeping.
- Beneficiaries have filed a lawsuit. The most daunting part of acting as a trustee is your personal legal liability for mistakes or mismanagement. If one of the heirs takes legal action against you, you could be forced to enter costly litigation, defend your position in court, and pay restitution out of your own pocket if you lose.
Let Us Answer Your Questions About Estate Administration in Florida
If you need help meeting the fiduciary requirements of a trustee position, we can protect you from liability and ensure that everything is done to the letter of the law. Call Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C. today at (718) 333-5007 or fill out our online form to get started.