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Brevard County, Florida Trust Administration

What is Trust Administration in Florida?

Trust Administration is an upsetting event after suffering the loss of a loved one that involves handling a multitude of details to settle their final affairs. The last thing anyone wants to do is fight with family members, creditors, the IRS, business partners, or even the judge. For a novice, navigating a trust or probate estate environment from beginning to end can be a daunting task, fraught with traps for the unwary. As seasoned professionals, we can be there to ensure the estate passes smoothly into the right hands, no matter the size of the estate. Also, we keep our eyes on the ball when it comes to minimizing and avoiding taxes in the process to pass the maximum possible wealth to heirs in Brevard County, Florida.

Trust administration in Florida involves overseeing the assets held within a trust. A trust is a form of legal ownership in which an ownership interest in real or personal property is split between the legal owner (the trustee) and the equitable owner (the beneficiary). Trusts are commonly created as an estate planning tool, and the trust administrator then manages the distribution of assets within the trust according to the wishes of its creator. There are many different types of trusts, depending on the goals of the person or married couple creating it.

Do I Need a Trust for My Melbourne, Florida Property?

There are several aspects to owning property in Florida. Mainly, property ownership involves the right of possession, the right of use, the right to transfer or sell property, and the right to convey the property to heirs upon death via a will. When a trust is created, the ownership of the property is put into the trust, which is a legal entity. The beneficiary of the trust is then vested with limited rights according to the terms of the trust. The beneficiary may have the right to use items within the trust but not to sell them or transfer them, or may have limited usage rights and restrictions on what can be done with the assets in the trust.

When a trust is created, in addition to naming the beneficiary or the person who is entitled to use the trust assets, a trustee must also be named. That trustee is responsible for trust administration. This means protecting the assets in the trust and ensuring they are used according to the wishes of the individual who established the trust. Further, successor trustees (replacing any prior trustee) and, sometimes, trust protectors (someone who can protect the trust when unforeseen problems occur in the future) should be named.

This sensitive, important planning can be accomplished through various methods:

  • Wills
  • Revocable Living Trusts
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
  • Children’s Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Generation-Skipping Trusts
  • Family Limited Partnerships
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Charitable Lead Trusts
  • Other types of charitable trusts

Further, other estate planning vehicles and techniques, including non-probate assets (e.g., insurance, IRAs, pension plans, and jointly held property), can be utilized. The complexities associated with trust administration or probate can be enormous, but with our trust and estate planning experience, we can effectively and efficiently handle any probate or trust administration that may arise.

Responsibilities of a Trust Administrator in Palm Bay, FL and Surrounding Areas

The duties involved in trust administration vary, depending on the nature of the trust created. It is common, for example, for a person to create a trust to leave money to a child and then distribute it to them to pay educational expenses or when they reach a certain age. In this situation, the trust administration duties involve ensuring that the assets are protected until the child reaches maturity and ensuring the money in the trust is used only for qualified expenses.

Revocable Living Trusts

One common trust type frequently used in Florida to avoid probate is the revocable living trust. Even after the trust creator(s) dies, there are specific steps to be followed that are required by the State of Florida. Many of the duties required under probate are still required in a living trust situation, just without court supervision:

  • Documents need to be filed in the public records
  • Beneficiaries need to be contacted
  • Assets gathered, valued and managed
  • Creditors, final expenses and taxes paid
  • Property managed until it is paid out to beneficiaries pursuant to the trust terms
  • Accountings to beneficiaries

Successor trustees often lack the time, resources, or knowledge to personally administer the trust and, therefore, may call upon legal, accounting, and investment professionals for assistance. Often, a corporate fiduciary (e.g., trust company or lawyer) is an excellent alternative to relying solely on busy family members or friends to serve as trustee. We help your successor trustee(s) deal with the complexities of administering your trust. For more than two decades, we have also served as a trust fiduciary (successor trustee).

While representing individuals, businesses, charities, or families, our trust and estate planning attorneys carefully plan and administer to achieve the most tax advantages. Rest assured that we will legally minimize or avoid any unnecessary taxes. We have helped many personal representatives and trustees save hundreds of thousands in dollars of taxes in the last few years.

Many successor trustees found the process to be much shorter and less stressful when a professional assists with the settlement process. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Center of Brevard has years of experience working with successor trustees to streamline this process. We have personally assisted over 1500 trustees in the trust administration process and have served as trustee and personal representative in dozens of trust and probate administrations. We thoroughly understand the process from start to finish and are willing to help, no matter the size of the estate.

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