Hi, I’m attorney Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law, with offices in Orlando and Winter Haven, Florida.
Bloodworth Law handles business litigation, trust litigation, probate litigation, employment law and litigation, personal injury protection litigation, and mediation for clients across Florida.
What Are Your Roles and Responsibilities as a Co-Trustee?
We handle a broad range of trust litigation issues that often involve disagreements between relatives.
Today, I am going to discuss some of the roles associated with a co-trustee in a Florida trust. For example, a father may name his daughters to handle a trust and be named co-trustees.
A co-trustee can’t rely on the other co-trustee to handle everything and avoid liability.
You have a legal duty to perform, you have a legal duty to cooperate with a co-trustee, to use your own judgment, make your decisions, and develop and act as an individual.
You can’t simply point to the other co-trustee because they live closer, have more financial ability to be away from work, or they say that they can handle it for the both of you. It’s your duty to watch and monitor the co-trustee for the benefit of all beneficiaries.
Here are the basic duties of a trustee or co-trustee in Florida:
1. You have to administer the trust solely in the interests of the beneficiaries
2. You have to exercise reasonable care, skill, and caution in administering the trust.
3. You have to only incur expenses that are reasonable in relation to the trust property, the purposes of the trust, and the skills of the trustee.
4. You must take reasonable steps to take control of and protect the trust property.
5. You must keep accurate records which includes:
a. reporting to the beneficiaries as the trust requires or as Florida statutes require;
b. potentially preparing and filing tax returns.
6. You can’t mix trust assets with your own assets.
7. Trust assets must be invested in a way that results in reasonable growth with minimum risk;
8. You must keep separate checking accounts and investments; and
9. You can’t use trust assets for your own benefit.
Next, Bloodworth Law can help a co-trustee to deal with the complexities of administering the trust.
Who Can Assist a Trustee?
Florida law allows for a trustee to employ attorneys, accountants, investment advisers, agents, and other professionals to advise or assist the trustee in the exercise of any of the trustee’s powers.
Florida law also allows the trustee to pay those professionals reasonable compensation and costs incurred in connection with such employment from the assets of the trust.
An attorney may not be necessary, but in co-trustee situations, one person may not have the resources, knowledge, maturity or the time to personally administer a trust.
Additionally, a trustee may not be aware of the liability that can come with the position. This is why trustees and beneficiaries should hire professionals for help.
Again, I’m attorney Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. If you have questions about your role as a co-trustee or have a trust dispute, give me a call. Let’s talk about how Bloodworth Law can help you or your family.