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The Side Bar – Volume V, Issue 5

The Side Bar – Volume V, Issue 5

May, 2014


Do You Have a Right to Keep the Finances of Your Living Trust Private?

Family dynamics have always been complicated and the complications even continue after you’ve passed on. Often times a husband and wide set up living trusts and once one of them passes, the trustee is left to administer the trust. However, given continued family complications, sometimes it’s not ideal for all beneficiaries to have unfettered access to trust information.


What is a Qualified Beneficiary and What Trust Information Can They Get?

When it comes to trust information, the trustee is obligated to provide each “qualified beneficiary” an original and annual accounting, upon request, a copy of the trust, and upon reasonable request, to provide relevant information about the assets and liabilities of the trust and particulars relating to the administration. A “qualified beneficiary” includes one who, while not currently eligible to take, would become eligible to receive trust distributions if the current beneficiary died or trust was terminated.


How Can You Control Which Qualified Beneficiaries Receive Trust Information?

Many people are surprised to learn about the qualified beneficiaries’ right to information and given some complicated family dynamics, certain individuals would strongly prefer to keep such information private. To alleviate this requirement for direct financial disclosure to qualified beneficiaries, a “designated representative” provision can be inserted into the trust, either in its original draft or in an amendment. The Florida Trust Code, as of its amendment in 2007, provides that the designated representative (who may not be the trustee) can represent and bind a beneficiary and receive any notice, information, accounting or report. Therefore, all notices, information, accountings and reports given to the representative serve as a substitute for and have the same effect as sending the information to the beneficiary directly. Accordingly, the representative is not obligated to pass along the notice or information received.


What Now?

Family dynamics will vary, but when it comes to your living trust information, if you want to insulate your spouse from the inquisitive eyes of your children until your spouse has passed on, it may be worthwhile to have a conversation with your attorney about including a designated representative in your trust.


You may contact Sidney Werner in our office for an appointment to discuss this or other estate planning matters.

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