Florida Trustee Duties in a Nutshell
By: Rebecca Nichols, Esq.
November 7, 2022
What are the fiduciary duties of a trustee? Trustees in Florida have several duties they must adhere to during the administration of any given trust. Failing to fulfill these various duties may constitute a breach of trust and expose the trustee to liability from legal claims made by beneficiaries.
Below is a general list of a trustee’s duties and responsibilities under the Florida Trust Code.
Over the next several weeks, we will cover key trustee duties in greater detail
1.Duty to administer the trust. Upon accepting the role as trustee, the trustee must administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with the terms and purposes as set forth in the trust agreement, in the best interest of beneficiaries, and in accordance with applicable Florida law.
See FL Stat. § 736.0801.
2.Duty of loyalty. Trustees are responsible for administering trusts solely in the interests of the beneficiaries.
See FL Stat. § 736.0802.
3.Duty of impartiality. Trustees are responsible for administering trusts impartially when there are two or more beneficiaries, and must give due regard to each beneficiaries’ respective interests.
See Stat. § 736.0803.
4.Duty to administer prudently. Trustees must administer any given trust as a prudent person would. In doing so, the Trustee should consider the purposes, terms, distribution requirements and other circumstances of the trust. The Trustee shall always exercise reasonable care, skill and caution in carrying out duties.
See FL Stat. § 736.0804.
5.Duty to incur only reasonable expenses. Trustees must incur only reasonable expenses related to administering the trust, while considering the trust assets, the trust purposes and the trustee’s skills.
See FL Stat. § 736.0805.
6.Duty to use skills or expertise. Any trustee who has special skills or expertise, or is nominated as trustee based on a representation that the trustee has special skills or expertise, must use said special skills or expertise.
See FL Stat. § 736.0806.
7.Duty to control and protect trust assets. Trustees must take reasonable steps to take control of and protect trust assets.
See FL Stat. § 736.0809.
8.Duty to keep records. Trustees are required to keep clear, distinct and accurate records during the administration of the trust. Trustees are further required to keep trust property separate from their personal property.
See FL Stat. § 736.0810.
9.Duty to enforce and defend claims. Trustees are required to take reasonable steps to enforce claims on behalf of the trust, and also to defend claims against the trust.
See FL Stat. § 0811.
10.Duty to inform. Trustees are required to keep qualified beneficiaries reasonably informed of the administration of the trust.
See FL Stat. § 736.0813.
In conclusion, Trustees have several very important duties under the Florida Trust Code. The purpose of these duties is to ensure trustees act in good faith, fairly and put the interests of the beneficiaries ahead of their own. If a Trustee breaches any of their fiduciary duties to the trust beneficiaries, they could potentially be held individually liable for these breaches of trust.
Please note this post is merely a summary of key duties owed by a trustee and should not serve as an exhaustive list or legal advice. Serving in the role of trustee can be incredibly challenging and complex, especially for an individual grieving the loss of a loved one or navigating difficult family dynamics. Under the terms of most trust agreements, trustees are entitled to hire attorneys to assist with the administration of the trust and the legal fees are paid for out of the trust assets, not the trustee’s personal account. Here at e-Estates and Trusts, PLLC, we have years of experience guiding trustees through the administration process. Don’t go it alone… we welcome you to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced probate and trust administration attorneys.
Disclosure: The information contained in this website and blog is of a general nature and is not intended in any way to answer individual legal questions. If you have a legal question concerning your individual circumstances, please contact our firm to schedule a conference with one of our experienced attorneys. Your review of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor any legal privileges relating thereto.