Things to Do When Someone Dies With a Revocable Trust in Florida

By Wayne Thomas

Revocable trusts are a useful tool for avoiding probate in Florida. The process involves transferring property owned during life to the trust with directions on how the assets are to be distributed after death. The individual who establishes the trust is referred to as the settlor, and the person who administers the property is referred to as the trustee. Those who stand to benefit under the trust terms are known as beneficiaries. Upon the death of the settlor, it is the trustee's job to perform certain duties associated with administering the trust in accordance with Florida law.

Filing Requirements

Probate is the court-supervised process by which assets owned by a deceased person are distributed, either according to the terms of a will or according to state law, if there is no will. If all property is held in trust, probate can generally be avoided and the assets can be distributed by administration of the trust. If some or all of the decedent's property is held in a trust, the trustee must file a "Notice of Trust" with the probate court clerk in the county where the deceased person lived. This serves to put the decedent's creditors on notice that a trust exists and it advises them that they can make claims against the trust for payment.

Notice

In Florida, the duties required of a trustee vary depending on the size of the estate, the location of the assets, and the terms of the trust. However, a trustee is always required to provide notice to the beneficiaries within 60 days after the settlor's death. The notice must include basic information about the trust, as well as a statement indicating that the beneficiaries have only six months to contest the trust's administration after receiving notice. The notice must also provide the trustee's contact information and indicate to the beneficiaries that they have a right to request a copy of any trust document provision that applies to them.

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Additional Trustee Responsibilities

The trustee must also obtain certified copies of the settlor's death certificate. These copies are often required by banks in combination with the trust documents for verification purposes in transferring assets held in accounts. The trustee is also required to inventory all assets and maintain them, and make a list of all debts the settlor owed. This may involve making mortgage payments and paying for upkeep on the real property. The trustee is required to settle outstanding claims against the estate before distributing any property to the beneficiaries. In making the distributions, the trustee must do so in accordance with the settlor's wishes, and follow the express terms of the trust document.

Duty of Care

As part of administering the trust, the trustee owes what is known as a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries. He must avoid self-dealing. This means that the trustee must put the beneficiaries' interests above his own and distribute assets only according to the terms of the trust. Florida law also requires that accounting be provided to the beneficiaries at least once a year for all assets that remain in the trust, and that the trustee keep the beneficiaries reasonably informed of all actions affecting the value of trust.

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References

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How to Settle a Trust in Indiana

Keeping assets well away from probate court is the main idea of trusts. These legal structures allow a settlor to place investments and property under the management of a trustee. A trust also names beneficiaries who receive assets -- without the assistance of the court system -- when the settlor dies. This event begins settlement of the trust, which is the responsibility of the trustee.

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A trust is a legal relationship in which a trustee holds property for beneficiaries, who are the individuals benefiting from the trust. The trustee must abide by the terms of the trust to manage property and distribute it to the beneficiaries. The person who creates a trust is known as the settlor, or grantor. The settlor can also serve as the trustee, naming a successor trustee who will take over for him following his death. Alternatively, the settlor can name someone else to serve as the trustee at the time he creates the trust. A trustee owes certain duties to the beneficiaries -- and the beneficiaries have a right to enforce the terms of the trust and hold the trustee in breach of his duties if he is performs any wrongful acts or omissions that affect their interests.

Irrevocable Family Trust Laws in Massachusetts

An irrevocable family trust can be effective estate planning tool. When an individual establishes this type of trust, he appoints an individual, known as a trustee, to oversee the administration of the trust. In Massachusetts, specific rules apply to the trustee. State law also sets forth the limited circumstances for the modification or termination of the trust. Understanding the state laws that apply to irrevocable family trusts will help ensure the proper distribution of property held in the trust.

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