David F. Powell, Professor Emeritus, Florida State University College of Law

I previously wrote here on Part 1 of Professor Powell’s two-part series of Florida Bar Journal articles explaining Florida’s new trust code.  This month’s Florida Bar Journal contains Part 2 of Prof. Powell’s series entitled aptly enough The New Florida Trust Code, Part 2.  The new trust code provisions covered in this latest article are the following:

Duties of a trustee

Trustee Powers

Liability of Trustees for Breach of Trust

Exculpatory Clauses

Remedies and Damages for Breach of Trust

Costs and Fees

Liability of Trustees to Third Parties

Limitations on Actions Against Trustees

Protection of Persons Other Than Beneficiaries Dealing with the Trustee

Rules of Construction

Charitable Trusts

Prof. Powell concludes his article with the following observations:

Even before the enactment of new Ch. 736, Florida already had an extensive body of statutory trust law, virtually all of which is found in F.S. Ch. 737. Nevertheless, enactment of the Code should prove beneficial because the Code is more structured, comprehensive, understandable, modern, accessible, and uniform than existing Ch. 737. Indeed, a major benefit of the Code is that it provides answers to a host of questions for which Florida’s law was previously not definitively settled. The added certainty the Code offers should promote efficiency and fairness to beneficiaries and trustees alike. At the same time, it should minimize the need for costly litigation.

I think Prof. Powell’s last point is especially important.  Knowledge is power, especially so in the trust litigation arena where the substantive law can be very complicated and the dollars at stake in most cases simply makes it economically unfeasible to learn all the trust-law nuances once you’re involved in the case.  In order to be truly effective, you need to know this stuff ahead of time.