A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustor (or grantor) transfers ownership of certain assets to a trustee (fiduciary) for the benefit of one or multiple beneficiaries. Under Florida law, all beneficiaries to trust must receive notice of acceptance of the trust.
However, simply knowing the trust exists is not sufficient to protect your rights as a beneficiary. If things do not go as expected, how would one react without a copy of the document that legally established the trust?
In this article, you will discover how to obtain a copy of a trust document in Florida.
How to Get a Copy of a Trust Document in Florida – The Basics
Whether you are a beneficiary to a trust, a will, a life insurance policy, or any other legal tool, Florida law grants a high level of protection for beneficiaries. Therefore, the beneficiaries of a trust have a set of statutory rights that a trustee must uphold.
In this regard, many of the rights trust beneficiaries are entitled to within state jurisdiction derive from the trustee’s obligations established by Chapter 736 of the Florida Trust Code. One of the essential duties of the trustee of a trust is maintaining beneficiaries reasonably informed, which includes:
- Provide notice to all qualified beneficiaries of the acceptance of the trust (within 60 days of acceptance)
- Provide notice to all qualified beneficiaries of the creation of an irrevocable trust or the date a formerly revocable trust has become irrevocable (within 60 days of the event)
- Provide notice of the trust’s existence, properly identifying the trustor’s identity
- Notify all beneficiaries they are entitled to request a copy of the trust instrument
- Notify all beneficiaries they are entitled to receive trust accountings
- Provide a full copy of the trust document to any qualified beneficiary upon reasonable request
- Provide all qualified beneficiaries with annual accounting and relevant information regarding the trust’s assets and liabilities (although a beneficiary has the option to waive this provision in writing)
How to Get a Copy of a Trust Document in Florida – Properly Communicating with Trustee(s)
Therefore, as long you are a qualified beneficiary of a trust, you are entitled to receive a copy of the trust document. The trust document (or instrument) is the legal document that establishes the binding obligation of the trustee to act in the best interests of the assets held in trust and its beneficiaries.
To receive a copy of the trust document, a beneficiary must communicate with the trustee requesting the copy.
Typically, trusts are largely used among close relatives as estate planning tools. However, such informal relationships sometimes lead to ignorance of legal facts or a lack of accounting by the trustee.
For example, a beneficiary who is part of the trust might not know who the trustee is. In this context, the requesting party must know exactly who the trustee is before asking for a copy of the trust document.
Upon receipt of request, the trustee must provide the copy to the beneficiary who requested it. Generally, a beneficiary should ask for a copy of the trust arrangement immediately after receiving notice of acceptance of the trust.
Ultimately, if the trustee fails to provide a copy of the trust document or denies the request, Florida law has several statutory provisions to protect the beneficiary’s rights. Hence, such failure incurred by a trustee is legally actionable for breach of fiduciary duty.