In a Florida trust, the trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the property held in the trust and its beneficiaries. Hence, any conflict of interests incurred by the trustee may lead to serious legal consequences.
Is it possible for a person to be a trustee and a beneficiary of a Florida trust? Keep reading to find out.
Fiduciary Duties of Trustees – The Essentials
As provided by Part VIII of Florida Statutes Chapter 736, a trustee has a set of duties and responsibilities that are part of his or her fiduciary duty.
Florida Statutes §736.0801 provides that “upon acceptance of a trusteeship, the trustee shall administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms and purposes and the interests of the beneficiaries, and in accordance with this code.”
Florida Statutes §736.0802 (1) adds that “as between a trustee and the beneficiaries, a trustee shall administer the trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries.”
Additionally, “if a trust has two or more beneficiaries, the trustee shall act impartially in administering the trust property, giving due regard to the beneficiaries’ respective interests.” (Fla. Stat. §736.0803)
Can You be a Trustee and a Beneficiary of a Trust in Florida? – An Honest Overview
Except in cases where the trustee is a sole beneficiary of the trust, Florida law has no provisions that expressly prohibit a beneficiary of a trust to serve as a trustee at the same time.
Considering anyone who is at least 18 years old and mentally competent can fulfill the role, the best approach is to avoid potential conflicts of interest and choose a trustworthy individual who is not a beneficiary of the same trust.
Beneficiary vs. Trustee – Potential Conflicts of Interest
Upholding the fiduciary duty required by Florida law while protecting his or her own interests as a beneficiary is only one of the challenges faced by a trustee who is also a beneficiary of a trust.
Depending on the situation, a “beneficiary trustee” may create tensions among family members, or even be unduly influenced to benefit one or multiple beneficiaries at the detriment of others.
Hence, it may result in legal disputes that will hinder the trust distribution and generate unnecessary expenses for all parties involved.
Even if the trustee executes his or her duties adequately, the other beneficiaries might still feel uncomfortable with the situation.
Can You be a Trustee and a Beneficiary of a Trust in Florida? – Seek Professional Guidance
If you are creating a Florida trust but you are interested in designating one of the beneficiaries of the same trust as the trustee, make sure to consult with an expert attorney for an individual assessment.
Although the idea may sound right in theory, there are several legal pitfalls in situations where the trustee is also a beneficiary of the same trust.
Avoid Conflict of Interests in Trust Administration – Immediately Contact Your Florida Probate Lawyer
Properly setting up a Florida trust requires a strategic approach. Waste no time – call Attorneys Romy B. Jurado and Diana L. Collazos today at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.