When Must the Trustee Provide an Accounting?

Fundamental to trust law, a trustee is always under a duty to give information to a beneficiary. Most states have enacted statutes specifically dealing with this duty to account. The video below goes into more detail.

For the benefit of the hearing impaired, here is the transcript of the video:

In Florida Fla. Stat. 736.0813 provides that a trustee shall provide a trust accounting to the trust beneficiaries at least annually and on the termination of the trust.

The trustee has a whole year to operate as trustee without being required to provide an accounting to the beneficiaries. But, the trustee must provide an accounting annually.

This accounting is the primary method a beneficiary can hold a trustee accountable. Without an accounting, a beneficiary is virtually powerless and at the mercy of the trustee.

Many have asked the question — exactly when is the accounting due? While none of the trust statutes specify a specific time frame when the accounting is due once a year has elapsed, common sense would suggest that a trustee has a reasonable amount of time to provide the accounting.

What is a reasonable amount of time? In my opinion a reasonable amount of time would approximately 60 days from the close of the accounting period. This provides the trustee sufficient time to gather up the final month’s information and assemble the actual trust accounting.

What if the trustee does not provide the trust accounting?

I would suggest that you write to the trustee shortly after the accounting period is up to request an accounting. If the trustee fails or refuses to provide an accounting, you may be justified in arguing that the trustee has committed a breach of fiduciary duty and even a fraud and should at the very least, be removed for intentionally refusing to provide the accounting.

If the accounting is not forthcoming a beneficiary can compel the accounting by filing a law suit for an accounting.

I strongly urge trust beneficiaries to be vigilant in monitoring the trustee and making sure a timely accounting is provided.

Contested Guardianships in Clearwater, Tampa and St. Petersburg

ProbateBaskinFleece handles all aspects of contested guardianship litigation in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Pinellas County and throughout the state of Florida.

Contested guardianships are those which involve either the establishment of a guardianship or situations where the alleged incapacitated person may not in fact be incapacitated, or reasonable alternatives to a guardianship exist. Many cases are filed to prevent the exploitation or further exploitation of an individual, often a loved one, by someone who has taken over the financial, medical and social affairs of an individual who is incapacitated and unable to resist the undue influence of others. The Order Determining Incapacity may result in the loss of substantial Civil Rights, including the BaskinFleece handles all aspects of contested guardianship litigation.right to vote; to determine one’s own medical treatment; to handle one’s own financial affairs; to make a will, change a will, gift or disposition of property; to determine one’s own residence; and to travel unsupervised, to name but a few. The filing of a guardianship, while unfortunate, is often the only means to stop the financial exploitation and wrest control away from the exploiter, who can be a stranger, but may also be a neighbor, caregiver, friend, or even a family member.

Clearwater Florida: What happens if there is no will?

Will and Living Will: Part 1 in a 3 part series from the Clearwater, Florida Law Firm of BaskinFleece.

If someone dies in Florida without a valid will, he or she is “intestate.”                                     (A person not having made a will).

Even if the decedent dies intestate, his or her probate assets are almost never turned over to the State of Florida. The state will take the decedent’s assets only if the decedent had no heirs. The decedent’s “heirs” are the persons who are related to the

Will: The rights of a decedent's family.

Will: The rights of a decedent’s family. What if there is no will Clearwater Florida?

decedent and described in the Florida statute governing distribution of the decedent’s probate assets if he or she died intestate.

If the decedent died intestate, the decedent’s probate assets will be distributed to the decedent’s heirs in the following order of priority:

1. If the decedent was survived by his or her spouse but left no living descendants, the surviving spouse receives all of the decedent’s probate estate. A “descendant” is a person in any generational level down the descending line from the decedent and includes children, grandchildren, and more remote descendants.

Priorities 2-5 will be discussed in the next 2 blog topics.

For help or answers to will and estate planning related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

The information above is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

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Florida law provides for several alternate abbreviated probate procedures…

“Summary Administration” is generally available only if the value of the estate subject to probate in Florida – (less property which is exempt from the claims of creditors; for example, homestead real property in many circumstances) is not more than $75,000, and if the decedent’s debts are paid, or the creditors do not object. Those who receive the estate assets in a summary administration generally remain liable for claims against the decedent for two years after the date of death. Summary administration is also available if the decedent has been dead for more than two years and there has been no prior administration.

Summary AdministrationAnother alternative to the formal administration process is “Disposition Without Administration.” This is available only if probate estate assets consist solely of property classified as exempt from the claims of the decedent’s creditors by applicable law and non-exempt personal property, the value of which does not exceed the total of (1) up to $6,000 in funeral expenses; and (2) the amount of all reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses incurred in the last 60 days of the decedent’s final illness, if any.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

The content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.
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Wills: Marriage and Moving to Florida.

Review your will after being married in or moving to Florida.Marriage does not cancel a will in Florida, but a spouse acquired after the execution of a will may receive the same portion of your estate that he or she would have received had you died without a will (at least one-half).

If you have moved to Florida from another state, it is wise to have your will reviewed by a Florida lawyer in order to be sure that it is properly executed according to the laws of Florida, that the witnesses are readily available to prove your will in Florida, and that your personal representative is qualified to serve in Florida.

No matter how perfect a will may be prepared for you, unless it is properly executed in strict compliance with the laws of Florida, the will may be entirely void. Be sure that you execute your will in the presence of your attorney, who knows exactly how and in what order the will should be signed.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

The content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.
  • Estate taxes, wills
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Lack of estate planning: A couple lost control by not having a will.

 

A properly executed will puts you in control to decide who gets your estate willinstead of the law making the choice for you. You also may name the personal representative (executor) of your will as you choose, provided the one named can qualify under Florida law. A personal representative is one who manages an estate, and may be either an individual or a bank or trust company, subject to certain limitations.

Another option is to create a trust in a will, whereby the estate or a portion of the estate will be kept intact with income distributed or accumulated for the benefit of members of the family or others. Minors can be cared for without the expense of proceedings for guardianship of property, and a guardian may be named for minor children.

Kids CharityA will can determine how your estate assets are distributed after your passing, such as making gifts, to charities that not only benefit from your generosity, but can also benefit from lower estate taxes before and after your death. For example, the Pinellas Community Foundation supports many charity organizations and can help direct your gifts to your desired charities as well as provide advice on tax implications. You decide who bears any tax burden, rather than the law making that decisio
n.

If you die without a will (this is called dying “intestate”), your property will be distributed to your heirs according to a formula fixed by law. Your property does not go to the State of Florida unless there are absolutely no heirs at law, which is very unlikely. In other words, if you fail to make a will, the inheritance statute determines who gets your estate. The inheritance statute contains a rigid formula and makes no exception for those in unusual need.

When there is no will, the court appoints a personal representative, known or unknown to you, to manage your estate. The cost of probating may be greater than if you had planned your estate with a will, and the administration of your estate may be subject to greater court supervision. Don’t have a will? It’s another loss to those you left behind.

Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

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Is Your Will Official? Here are technicalities that could make it invalid…

A Will is a written document controlling the disposition of estate assets and cash at death. The laws of each state set the formal requirements for a wIll to be a legal will. Here are the laws in Florida regarding an official and valid will:

will and estate

Make sure your will is official.

1. The maker of the will (called the testator), must be at least 18 years old.

2. The testator must be of sound mind at the time they sign the will.

3. The will must be written to be an official document.

4. Important: The will must be witnessed and notarized in the special manner provided by law for wills.

5. It is necessary to follow exactly the formalities required for the execution of a will.

6. To be effective, the will must be proved in, and allowed by, the probate court.

Click on the image below to watch a short 1 minute video.

The Signing of a WillNo will becomes final until the death of the testator, and it may be changed or added to by the testator by drawing a new will or by a “codicil,” which is simply an addition or amendment executed with the same formalities of a will. A will’s terms cannot be changed by writing something in or crossing something out after the will is executed. In fact, writing on the will after its execution may invalidate part of the will or all of it.

Some of the content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

For help or answers to will and estate related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.
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