Boca Raton Trust Administration Attorney
After a loved one passes away, moving forward involves grief and healing. But the aftermath of a loved one’s death can also include the practical responsibilities of administering a decedent’s estate and ensuring that both their wishes and the law are followed. Trust administration is no small task, and the legal, ethical, and financial issues which arise can be complicated and overwhelming. Those entrusted with the fiduciary obligations involved in trust administration are almost always determined to fulfill those duties responsibly and honestly but may lack the legal knowledge or administrative acumen to do so. That’s when an experienced Boca Raton trust administration attorney can make all the difference.
The attorneys at Ellis Law Group understand the challenges faced by trustees who find themselves in this unfamiliar role. That’s why we help families administer trusts and estates with diligence, attention to detail, and efficiency. With decades of collective experience and an unwavering commitment to clear communication and absolute transparency, we service estates throughout Florida and counsel clients on a multitude of trust issues, including irrevocable trust administration, modification, and termination.
Our lawyers have earned the respect and confidence of individuals, entities, and judges for their integrity and professionalism. We regularly serve as fiduciaries and court-appointed administrators, charged with ensuring that trusts are managed and closed cost-effectively and without unnecessary complications. Clients seeking assistance with trust administration responsibilities will find clarity and peace of mind working with us. Full-service, hands-on, and accessible, our lawyers offer steady guidance and prudent stewardship that can alleviate the stress and burdens trustees often confront.
Irrevocable Trust Administration
An irrevocable trust is a common and effective estate planning vehicle. One of the primary advantages of placing assets in an irrevocable trust is that after the testator’s death, those assets can be gathered, managed, and distributed outside of the probate process and without the involvement of the court. But the lack of probate does not mean that the administrative responsibilities and legal duties that fall on the shoulders of the trustee are any less complex.
Florida law imposes a duty on all trustees to “administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and purposes and the interests of the beneficiaries, and in accordance with” Florida law. That law imposes significant, specific, and detailed obligations on trustees. If the trustee fails to comply with these requirements, fails to abide by the terms of the trust documents, or acts in their own self-interest over that of the trust and its beneficiaries, he or she can find themselves in serious trouble.
The responsibilities of a trustee arise immediately after the testator’s death. Among the core responsibilities of a trustee are:
- Gathering and taking control of trust assets. This can include such matters as:
- Transferring vehicle titles
- Implementing business succession plans
- collecting and distributing personal assets
- transferring financial and other accounts transfers
- real estate conveyances
- Identifying and notifying beneficiaries of the existence of the trust, 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 a trust accounting to the beneficiaries annually as well as on termination of the trust or a change of trustee
- Upon reasonable request, providing the beneficiaries with relevant information about the trust’s assets and liabilities and the particulars of the trust administration
- Keeping clear and accurate records of the trust’s administration
- Distributing the estate to beneficiaries pursuant to established directions.
Satisfying each of the preceding obligations involves a lot of work. From the form and timing of beneficiary notifications to recordkeeping requirements to asset valuations and claim resolutions, proper trust administration can quickly become a full-time job. Conversely, improper trust administration can easily become a full-time problem.
Ellis Law Group helps trustees with the entire range of tasks involved in irrevocable estate administration. Our Boca Raton trust administration attorneys assist with the preparation of necessary account transfer forms, real estate deeds and other documents required to effectuate asset collection and distribution. We also help with the preparation, review, and presentation of required trust accountings and work with trustees to ensure that any discretionary distributions are proper and prudently made.
When appropriate and advantageous, we complement the considerable knowledge of our attorneys with the insights of other highly qualified professionals, such as certified public accountants and financial advisors, who can help protect trust assets, minimize liabilities, and guide trustees in financial and investment decision-making.
Irrevocable Trust Termination
Many irrevocable trusts terminate pursuant to their terms, and many terminate when all assets have been distributed and claims resolved. The termination of a trust must be handled with the same care, diligence, and adherence to the law as its administration. Our Boca Raton trust termination lawyers help trustees conclude their responsibilities and close trusts with efficiency and finality.
A Florida court can terminate a trust upon the application of a trustee or a qualified beneficiary of the trust. Judges evaluating such applications are guided both by the trust documents as well as specific factors enumerated in Florida law. They will consider the terms and purposes of the trust, the facts and circumstances surrounding the creation of the trust, and extrinsic evidence relevant to the proposed termination.
So long as termination of the trust is not inconsistent with the settlor’s purpose in establishing the trust, a judge may authorize termination of the trust in whole or in part if:
- The purposes of the trust have been fulfilled or have become illegal, impossible, wasteful, or impractical to fulfill;
- Because of circumstances not anticipated by the settlor, compliance with the terms of the trust would defeat or substantially impair the accomplishment of a material purpose of the trust; or a material purpose of the trust no longer exists.
Often, the value of the assets in an irrevocable trust are insufficient to justify the costs and efforts involved in administering the trust. If the value of the assets in a trust is less than $50,000 and if the trustee concludes that the costs outweigh the value of those assets, Florida law allows the trustee to terminate the trust after notice to all qualified beneficiaries. When the trust is terminated for these reasons, the trustee then must distribute the trust property in a manner consistent with the purposes of the trust.
Irrevocable Trust Modification
Just as changes in circumstances, intervening events, or satisfaction of the trust’s purposes can support the termination of an irrevocable trust, a court can also modify the terms of the trust if doing so would comport with the wishes and directives of the testator and would be in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
For Florida trusts which become irrevocable after January 1, 2001 and for “dynasty” trusts, the terms of the trust may be modified without court involvement if the trustee and the all qualified beneficiaries unanimously agree to the modification. Otherwise, modification of an irrevocable trust will involve the same court involvement and analysis involved in the judicial termination of a trust.
Trustees should not seek modification of a trust without a full consideration of the financial, tax, and legal implications of doing so. As with any effort that involves the court, efforts to modify an irrevocable trust should only be undertaken with the assistance of a qualified and experienced Boca Raton trust administration attorney.
Contact a Boca Raton Trust Administration Attorney
The expansive duties involved in irrevocable trust administration often fall on the shoulders of individuals whose lives are already full of other responsibilities and obligations. A trustee’s heartfelt desire to live up to the trust placed in them to handle this significant role is often at odds with their capacity or ability to do so. A Boca Raton trust administration attorney at Ellis Law Group can bridge the gap between good intentions and overwhelming challenges in the administration, termination, or modification of irrevocable trusts. Even those trustees with experience in the role benefit from our sound judgment and strategic counsel.
Every member of our legal team shares the same fundamental values of hard work, honesty, and professionalism. Every client receives the same personal attention, legal excellence, and responsive service that are hallmarks of our firm. With diligence, vigilance, and wisdom, we are valued partners for trustees throughout Florida. We invite you to contact our firm to learn more about how we can help you with your irrevocable trust administration needs. Please call us today at 561-910-7500 or send us an online message to schedule a consultation.