People throughout the U.S. are made Trust beneficiaries without much prior knowledge of what that means. Fear not; you don’t need to be a legal expert to understand your Trust beneficiary rights.
In Florida, there are opportunities to take action if your beneficiary rights have been violated with the help of an Estate Planning attorney. This can help remove the problematic person, change Trust wording or another resolution.
But before any of that, it’s important that you know what your Trust Beneficiary Rights in Florida are:
Your Trust Beneficiary Rights Explained:
If you’re a beneficiary, you’ve been selected to benefit from Trust distributions of assets or income.
In Florida, there are laws designed to protect your rights and avoid unjust behavior, favoritism, fraud and other mismanagement of the Trust.
Your rights are primarily related to the ‘duties’ that must be upheld by a Trustee.
A Trustee’s duties require that by law they meet certain obligations and follow your (and the other beneficiaries’) best interests at all times.
Put simply, you’re entitled to be treated fairly, with information on expenses and asset distribution.
Read on to understand what you should be provided in detail:
A Trustee’s Duties:
Trustee duties that should be provided to you include, but are not limited to:
A Trustee must administer the trust in ‘good faith’. That means following the terms and instructions listed in the Trust, and following its purposes in the best interests of the beneficiaries. (736.0801)
The Trustee must provide you a duty of loyalty to administer the Trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries. (736.0802)
The Trustee must act impartially when administering the trust. That means no favoritism or distribution of assets based on their relationships to the beneficiaries. (736.0803)
A Trustee must administer the trust ‘as a prudent person’ would. Meaning they must make thoughtful decisions with care, skill and caution. This can include considering the Trust’s terms and purposes and the best interests of beneficiaries. (736.0804)
Protection of Assets
A Trustee must take reasonable steps to ensure Trust assets are controlled and protected. For example, a car should be secure and safe from theft or damage. (736.0809)
This is an important beneficiary right that is violated far too often.
The Trustee must provide accounting information if requested, within a reasonable time. This includes everything from income and expenses to the distribution of assets.
They must also provide notice of changes to the Trust, the acceptance of the Trust, investment holding changes and more.
All this information must be correct and any attempt to hide accounting information is a breach of a Trustee’s duties. (736.0810)
Other Trust Beneficiary Rights in Florida:
Aside from the Trustee duties, you also have the right to:
Your Share of the Pie
As a beneficiary, you are entitled to receive the payment and asset distribution as set out in the Trust terms. This may include written and pre-decided distributions or assets or cash as determined by the Trustee.
Right to Information
We’ve already mentioned accounting information, but you’re also entitled to receive clear information on the Trust, its terms and your rights within it.
End of the Trust
In certain scenarios, a Trust can be revoked if all the beneficiaries agree to it. This can be made in a Trust contest.
In certain scenarios, you may also be entitled to petition for changes to a Trust.
For example, if the wording of a Trust’s terms are hard to interpret and that’s leading to disagreements, then a court can make a ruling on what the language means.
This can make a big difference in how a Trust is distributed.
If a Trustee breaches their duties then you have the right to petition for their removal with the help of an Estate Planning attorney.
In Florida, the courts won’t remove a Trustee without significant supporting evidence. They must be able to determine if any of Florida Statute 736.0706’s criteria have been met.
Common examples that lead to Trustee removals include:
- Failure to follow the Trust’s terms
- Mismanagement of the Trust and assets
- Breach of Trustee Duties
- Mentally unfit
- Failure to Act
- Conflict of Interests
What to Expect as a Trust Beneficiary Early On?
In the initial stages of a trust, all beneficiaries should expect and be entitled to:
- Notice of the acceptance of the Trust.
- Information and education on their role and rights as a beneficiary of the Trust.
- Clarification on the expectations of assets within the Trust.
- All assets should be counted for and controlled before Trust distribution begins.
What to Do if Your Trust Beneficiary Rights Have Been Violated?
If you believe your Trust beneficiary rights in Florida have been violated, you should contact an Estate Planning attorney as soon as possible.
Obviously, there are a variety of reasons as to why your rights have been violated, so there isn’t a blanket answer to this question.
But by speaking to an Estate Planning attorney you can get an answer specific to your circumstances fast.
Also, in most cases, you won’t be able to take legal action without a lawyer. Evidence is required through documents testimonies that call for depositions, interviews and possibly subpoenaed documents. That means following the Rules of Evidence.
Going alone is not only very difficult but also potentially very expensive. The last thing you want is a long, expensive litigation battle.
Depending on your situation, however, you may be able to:
- Trustee Removal
- Revoke a Trust
- Amend a Trust
- Speed up the distribution of assets
Contact a Florida Trust Beneficiary Rights Attorney
If you or any other beneficiaries of a Trust have had their rights violated, or you want to create a Trust, then you should contact a Florida Estate Planning attorney.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they can protect your Beneficiary Rights in Florida.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.