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Acquiring Property as a Trustee

From time to time individuals receive property in their role as trustee. Under Fla. Stat. §689.07, every deed or conveyance of real estate made or executed in which the words “trustee” or “as trustee” are added to the name of the grantee (the person receiving the property), and in which no beneficiaries are named, the nature and purposes of the trust, if any, are not set forth, and the trust is not identified by title or date, the property actually transfers to the person individually, rather than as trustee unless a contrary intention appears in the deed or document of conveyance or there is a declaration of trust by the trustee filed in the public records in the county in which the property is located. The declaration of trust must declare the purposes of any such trust and state that the real estate is held other than for the benefit of the grantee.

To more aptly summarize the statute, Fla. Stat. §689.07 provides that where  the person receiving the property in a deed is named as trustee without identifying either the beneficiaries or the nature and purposes of the trust and no trust agreement of record is identified, the grantee receives fee simple title. The statute was enacted to prevent fraud being perpetrated upon persons who might subsequently rely upon the record when dealing with the grantee and to prevent “secret trusts” that impede the exchange of marketable title by vesting both the legal and beneficial interest in the trustee, unless a contrary intention appears in the deed or conveyance, or a declaration of trust is recorded. Raborn v. Menotte, 974 So.2d 328, 332 (Fla. 2008).  See also Meadows v. Citicorp Leasing, Inc., 511 So.2d 622, 623 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987); Arundel Debenture Corporation v. Le Blond, 139 Fla. 668 (Fla. 1939).

Because many people who take on the role of trustee in trusts are unfamiliar with the provisions of the law, it is important to consult with an attorney when taking on or disposing of property for a trust, as well as when conducting other aspects of trust administration, especially if you are doing so for a trust which is not revocable.

If you have any questions about your duties as a trustee or about taking on or disposing of property for a trust, please contact The Hogan Law Firm for a consultation to find out more about your obligations when serving as a trustee