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Will Trustee

In Florida wills and trusts are two of the most important estate planning documents. A will allows a testator to memorialize his (or her) wishes as to what should happen with his property after he passes away. For example, in his will a testator can include who is to get his real estate, who is to get the cash in his checking account, and who is to get his pet dog. A trust allows a person to move property into a trust that is managed by a trustee for the benefit of named beneficiaries. For example, the trustor can move title to his condo to a trust for the benefit of his niece. While a trust and will are separate estate planning vehicles, a trust can be created through a will. Such a trust is referred to as a will trust or a testamentary trust. To learn more about the benefits of creating a trust through your will, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale will trustee lawyer.


A trust is an arrangement created by a trustor that allows a trustee to hold assets transferred to the trust by the trustor for the benefit of a beneficiary. Trusts that are created and funded by the trustor during his lifetime are called living or inter vivos trusts and may avoid probate. However, testamentary trusts are defined in a will and created through the will after the death of the trustor. The property that funds the trust is subject to probate.

Will Trustee

Typically the trustor will name in his will the person he wants to serve as the trustee of the testamentary trust. It is important that the trustee is someone who is trustworthy as that person will have the overall responsibility of managing the trust based on the terms of the trust documents. Trusts must be managed for the benefit of the beneficiaries named and not for the benefit of the trustee.

Trust Administration

Trust administration refers to the overall management of the trust, culminating with the transfer of the trust assets to the beneficiaries. Unlike probate and estate administration, trust administration is not a process that is supervised by the circuit court. However, the duties of the trustee are similar to that of a personal representative. The trustee must collect the trust assets, manage them, invest trust property, and distribute them to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust document. To learn more about the trust administration process, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale will trustee lawyer who will help ensure that the process is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible, and in a manner that is consistent with Florida law.

It is important for the will trustee to understand that he must perform his trust administration duties in an ethical manner for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries. Failure to do so would be a breach of fiduciary duty and put the trustee in jeopardy of facing legal and personal financial liability.

Will Trust and Probate

Probate is the process that is managed by the personal representative of an estate that involves winding up the affairs of a loved one. The personal representative must collect, appraise, and inventory estate assets, pay estate debt and expenses, and ultimately distribute assets to the beneficiaries based on the terms of the will. In Florida probate typically takes no more than 12 months. During this time beneficiaries general have no access or limited access to property in the estate even though the decedent willed it to them. As a will trustee attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, there are strategies to minimize the impact that probate has on beneficiaries and estate assets. One such strategy is to place the property in a trust. However, the trust cannot be a testamentary trust. It must be a trust that was created and funded during the decedent’s lifetime.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

To understand the differences between a will trust and other types of trusts, contact a will trustee attorney serving Fort Lauderdale. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have extensive experience helping clients with the creation and administration of trusts as well as other estate documents including wills and powers of attorney that help meet individual estate planning goals. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.