Law Office of Amy B. Van Fossen, P.A. - Elder Law

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Using a trust

Individuals in Florida who are developing their estate plans should know that the inclusion of a trust can help make their estate plans more effective. A trust is a legal agreement between a settlor and a trustee. For estate planning purposes, a trustee agrees to receive, manage and safeguard the assets that are presented by the settlor. The trustee also agrees to manage the assets in accordance to the instructions provided by the settlor and to distribute the income and principal of the trust as stipulated by the trust provisions to benefit the trust beneficiaries.

A trustee is a fiduciary and is required to use reasonable care when taking administrative actions for the trust and when choosing trust investments. The trustee is also obligated to avoid instances of conflict of interest when selling, holding or buying trust asses. Additionally, the trustee should make every effort to not breach any of the assigned trustee duties with regard to the settlor and the beneficiaries of the trust.

The trustee has a number of duties to fulfill. He or she must adhere to the terms of the trust, exercise reasonableness and caution when making administrative and investment decisions, and be objective when handling issues pertaining to the beneficiaries. The trustee is also required to be transparent when relaying information as stipulated in the trust agreement.

A trust can be created to regulate and manage investments and spending so that the assets will not be squandered by beneficiaries. It can also be used to avoid the probate process.

An attorney who provides estate planning services may assist clients with creating the appropriate type of trust for their needs. The attorney may properly draft the provisions of the trust to ensure that the trust assets are managed according to a client’s wishes.