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Gierach and Gierach, P.A Gierach and Gierach
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Orlando Trustee & Fiduciary Representation Lawyer

When a trust is created, a trustee is appointed to invest and manage the assets in the trust for the beneficiaries who will ultimately receive the trust property at the designated time. The trustee owes fiduciary duties to the trust and its beneficiaries, which means the trustee must act competently, reasonably and ethically with regards to trust investments and other matters. Trustees who mismanage funds, engage in misconduct or otherwise breach their fiduciary duties can not only be removed from their position as trustee; they can also be held personally liable for any financial harm done. The experienced Orlando probate & estate administration lawyers at Gierach and Gierach provide practical advice and professional assistance to trustees and fiduciaries, helping them carry out their duties competently and faithfully.

Fiduciary duties of trustees in Florida estate administration

A trustee owes fiduciary duties to a trust and its beneficiaries. A fiduciary holds a position of trust and must act in good faith. Fiduciary duties include loyalty, avoiding conflicts of interest and self-dealing, and acting with due care and prudence. A fiduciary may be in charge of investing and managing trust assets, and must exercise sound judgment when making investment choices. A trustee may also be required to file reports with the court from time and also provide an accounting of trust assets to the beneficiaries. Other duties include providing notice to beneficiaries, preparing necessary documents, paying taxes and settling the estate.

What qualities make a good trustee?

A trustee should have at least a basic understanding of the principles of investing, as well as a familiarity with tax documents. Even more important, the trustee should recognize the importance of turning to the help of experts (attorneys, accountants, corporate trustees) as the needs arise. If you are creating a trust and in the process of deciding on a trustee, choose someone who is likely to be around for as long as the trust is active, and who can devote the necessary time and attention to adequately managing the trust. Depending upon the terms of the trust, the trustee may distribute the assets in the trust at the death of the trustor, or the trustee may continue to hold, manage and invest trust assets for years until some triggering event occurs, such as a child reaching a certain age.

If considering appointing a family member as trustee, consider whether infighting, second-guessing or hurt feelings from other family members may come into play. It is often better to appoint your attorney or other professional to serve as trustee to avoid family arguments or ill will.

Help is Available for Trustee and Fiduciary Representation in Orlando

Trusts are complex, lengthy and highly technical documents; an experienced estate planning lawyer can help you understand what you are supposed to do as trustee, from management of assets to final administration and distribution. Trusts typically provide funds for the trustee to retain an attorney for the trust administration process, so cost does not have to be a concern when deciding whether to turn to a lawyer for help. Remember that trustees can get in trouble for mishandling trust assets or breaching their fiduciary duties.

For advice regarding a particular aspect of trustee or fiduciary duties in Orlando, contact Gierach and Gierach at 407-598-8013 for a no-cost, confidential consultation with a knowledgeable and experienced Florida probate and estate planning lawyer.

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