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Florida Probate Blog

Posts Tagged: trust

Can a guardian change the trustee of a ward’s trust?

Written by on Jul 27, 2015| Posted in: Guardianship Litigation

Choosing someone to act as your successor trustee upon your death or incapacity is not a decision that you should take lightly. Not only does that nominated successor trustee have a duty and obligation to carry out your wishes, but that trustee also has a fiduciary obligation to act prudently and appropriately for the benefit of the subsequent beneficiaries. However, what if that nominated successor trustee turns out to be a bad choice? What if the settlor of the trust is determined to be incapacitated and cannot alter the terms of the trust? The 5th District Court of Appeals of Florida in Rene v. Sykes-Kennedy, 156 So.3d 518 (Fla 5th DCA 2015) recently dealt with such an issue wherein a person who created a revocable trust was subsequently determined to be incapacitated. The person had nominated a granddaughter to serve as the successor trustee of the trust upon the person’s […]

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Trust Reformation

Written by on Jun 29, 2009| Posted in: Trust Litigation

Does a Trustee, Acting Alone, Have Standing to Seek Trust Reformation? The enactment of Florida’s new Trust Code invited many unanswered questions, and the question of whether a trustee, acting solely in her capacity as trustee, has standing to seek reformation of a trust was presented to our appellate court in Reid v. Temple Judea, 994 So.2d 1146 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2007).  The case involved a trust executed by Edgar Sonder who named Ceclia as trustee.  On May 17, 2000, Edgar Sonder executed a trust naming himself as trustee.   After Sonder’s death, his estate was probated and finding trust funds insufficient to pay all of the gifts provided for in Sonder’s will, Reid moved to abate the enumerated pecuniary gifts proportionately. Reid also claimed that the apartment was a devise, not subject to abatement.

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What Happens When Mistakes are Made in a Will?

Written by on Apr 29, 2009| Posted in: Probate Litigation

Mistakes happen all the time when people are making their estate planning documents. The law is designed to provide fair remedies and solutions for families and loved ones who are victimized by an honest mistake by the deceased relative. A uniform code for dealing with mistakes in wills is set froth in the Restatement of Property (Third)- Wills and Donative Transfers, which provides: § 12.1 Reforming Donative Documents To Correct Mistakes “A donative document, though unambiguous, may be reformed to conform the text to the donor’s intention if it is established by clear and convincing evidence (1) that a mistake of fact or law, whether in expression or inducement, affected specific terms of the document; and (2) what the donor’s intention was. In determining whether these elements have been established by clear and convincing evidence, direct evidence of intention contradicting the plain meaning of the text as well as other […]

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Substance over Form: What is necessary for a valid transfer of property into a trust?

Written by on Apr 16, 2009| Posted in: Trust Litigation

Court holds trust instrument was effective in transferring both real and personal property to the trust.Prior to Florida’s adoption of the new Trust Code, which became effective on July 1, 2007, the common law held that in order for a trust to be created, the settlor was required to make a present and unequivocal disposition of property so that he or she is no longer vested with its full legal and equitable ownership. For example, it has been held in Florida that the failure of a settlor to execute a deed which conveyed real estate to the trustees of a trust precluded the creation of a “living trust” for the realty. Flinn v. Van Devere, 502 so.2d 454 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986). Although the new Trust Code is now effective, it provides that the common law of trusts and principles of equity supplement the Code, except to the extent modified […]

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Trust Modification

Written by on Jan 21, 2009| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Extrinsic Evidence Sufficient to Construe Settlor’s Original Intent The new Florida Trust Code recognizes the recent increase in use of long-term trusts, thereby requiring greater flexibility in the restrictive rules that apply concerning when a trust may be terminated or modified other than as provided in the instrument. The governing principal of the trust code is to carry out the settlor’s intent. The power to modify the terms of a trust appears in a variety of sections of the new trust code. For example, a court now has discretion to modify an irrevocable trust because of circumstances not anticipated by the settlor. In exercising its discretion the court is to consider any spendthrift provision but is not precluded from modifying the trust for that reason. Fla.Stat. §736.04113. Also, a court may modify a trust if such action is in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Fla.Stat. §736.04115.

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Trust Language and Settlor’s Intent

Written by on Oct 23, 2008| Posted in: Trust Litigation

Learn the Language: Fifth District Court of Appeals Reverses Probate Judge and Predicates Opinion On its Own Perception of Trust Language and “Settlor’s Intent”In Brown v. Miller, — So.2d —-, 2008 WL 4600940, 33 Fla.L.Weekly D2433c, Fla.App. 5 Dist., October 17, 2008 (NO. 5D07-1356, 5D07-1288) the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed Orange County Judge Lawrence Kirkwood’s order which had invalidated a seven million dollar transfer from a testamentary trust to its lifetime beneficiary. The Wife Elinor Miller set up a trust naming her husband Bill as the trustee and lifetime beneficiary (the “Elinor Miller Trust”). After her death the assets remaining in the trust (after her charitable bequests and distributions to family members) were divided into three separate sub-trusts, designated as Trust A-1, Trust A-2 and Trust B with each serving a distinct purpose. The Elinor Miller Trust provided that the Trustee should pay Bill the income from A-1 […]

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