In the United States, the rights of trust beneficiaries are typically governed by state law. Florida has adopted the Uniform Trust Code (U.T.C.), which governs the administration of trusts in Florida as well as duties and rights of trustees and beneficiaries.
What Duties Do Trustees Have in Florida?
In Florida, U.T.C. §813, imposes various duties on trustees. One specific duty, is for a trustee to inform the beneficiaries of the trust about the administration of that trust. According to §736.0813 of the Florida Statutes, beneficiaries of a trust should be “reasonably informed of the trust and its administration” by the trustee.
Section § 16:8 of the Florida Trust Code describes other duties of a trustee. Some of the core duties of a trustee include:
- Duty to administer the trust in good faith and in the interests of the beneficiaries.
- Duty of impartiality and loyalty.
- Duty to incur only reasonable expenses and to protect the trust property.
- Duty to administer the trust at a place that is appropriate to its purposes and administration. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 736.0108(4).
A trustee also has a duty to promptly respond to a beneficiary’s request for information related to the administration of the trust, under U.T.C. §813. The only exception to this rule is if responding would be “unreasonable under the circumstances”. The trustee has a duty to treat the beneficiaries of the trust equally and to protect their individual interests in the trust.
What Must a Trustee Provide the Beneficiary in Florida?
Upon request from the beneficiary, the trustee has to provide a copy of the trust itself. Additionally, after 60 days of accepting trusteeship, the trustee must notify the beneficiaries of his name, address, and telephone number. A trustee must also notify the qualified beneficiaries of the trust’s existence, the identity of the settlor, and of the right to request copies of the trust instrument and a trustee’s report.
It is important to note that the settlor (the owner of the trust) can waive the duty of absolute loyalty that the trustee typically would owe to the beneficiary of the trust. However, it is not always the case that the duty of the trustee to act in good faith toward the beneficiary can be waived, even by the settlor.
Can a Beneficiary Sue a Trustee in Florida?
Yes, a beneficiary may petition a court to look into certain actions of the trustee. In such a case, it is important to speak with an experienced Trusts and Estates attorney, as it could be difficult to prove a trustee’s violation of his duties. If the beneficiary does manage to convince the court that the trustee has somehow mismanaged the trust, a court may order the trustee to restore the mismanaged property of the trust, compel the trustee to perform certain trustee duties or remove the trustee form his position of trust.