West Palm Beach Trust Assets Lawyer
Administering Trust Assets
When you are setting up a living trust as a means of distributing your assets after your death, you will need to designate the person who will administer the trust’s assets in behalf of your beneficiaries. This is a highly complex, time-consuming, and demanding job, which contains potential pitfalls for an inexperienced trustee, or one who is not familiar with the legal requirements and/or lacks a background in making investment decisions―something you should keep in mind when naming a trustee.
Although your first instinct might be to name a close family member as trustee, ask yourself if this is a burden you really want to place on a loved one―especially if the trust is well-funded and complex, containing multiple types of assets such stocks, bonds, real estate, business assets, personal property, and various types of investment instruments.
What Tasks Are Involved in Administering Trust Assets?
These are some of the tasks involved in the administration of a trust:
- Creating an inventory of all of the trust’s assets;
- Determining the value of each asset and the total value of the assets included in the trust;
- Managing the assets in such a way as to maintain or increase their value up until the time when they will be distributed among the beneficiaries. This may involve selling, investing, or reinvesting assets;
- Paying bills, debts, and taxes;
- Meticulous recordkeeping, including bank and tax records, brokerage transactions, and any disbursements made with trust funds;
- Liquidating and disbursing the assets of the trust among named beneficiaries in accordance with the instructions of the trust’s grantor;
- Filing a final federal income tax return. Florida does not tax income from trusts.
The Desirability of Selecting a Trustee with Combination of Investment and Legal Expertise
If the assets held in the trust are substantial, varied, and complex ―and especially if they include a significant securities portfolio―your beneficiaries will benefit from having the trust’s assets administered by someone with extensive knowledge of finance, securities law, and estates and trusts law. This can be achieved in several ways:
- The trustee you have named can hire, for a fee, various outside investment advisors, accountants, and legal professionals to assist in managing the assets.
- You can name co-trustees, each with knowledge in a particular area that is relevant to the assets held in the trust.
- You can select an attorney as trustee who practices in the legal fields of both securities and estates and trusts law.
In most situations, the third option is the most effective and efficient. When one person has the broad range of skills, knowledge, and experience to handle all aspects of administering the assets of the trust, transactions can be made smoothly, without having to involve multiple parties. An attorney well-grounded in both securities and estates and trusts law is fully equipped to oversee the smooth operation of the trust, securing and growing its assets, and avoiding legal pitfalls that often engulf the unaware and inexperienced trustee.
An inexperienced trustee may have difficulty identifying the best outside professionals to assist with the administration of the trust’s assets, and the responsibility for identifying, vetting, and dealing with multiple advisors adds to the already heavy responsibility of trust management for one who is not familiar with the process.
Naming co-trustees is another possible choice, but because both trustees have to sign off on any transactions, this creates additional steps and can cause delays in executing important transactions. It can also give rise to disputes if co-trustees disagree on some aspect of trust management.
Having a well-rounded, trusted, and multi-skilled professional to administer the trust will tend to avoid problems that all too often arise from conflicts among co-trustees or complaints by beneficiaries of mismanagement.
Finding the Right Person to Administer Your Trust’s Assets
In Florida, when you need to appoint a professional and ethical trustee to manage the assets of a trust you have created, or plan to create as part of your estate planning strategy, you will find the combination of qualities you’re looking for in Boca Raton attorney Todd Zuckerbrod. Todd brings to the table more than 29 years of legal experience encompassing the securities industry, estate planning, and trust administration and is widely respected for his integrity, knowledge, and client-focused, results-oriented law practice.
Call the Zuckerbrod law offices to schedule a free consultation to meet Todd and learn why he is the right person to ensure that those you wish to help and support through a trust will receive the maximum benefit from your bequest.