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Florida Probate Blog

Posts Tagged: trustee

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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Indispensible Parties in Trust Lawsuits

Written by on Feb 6, 2009| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Necessary and Indispensable Parties in Trust Lawsuits:  Second District Clarifies Rule in Trust Probate Dispute Who is a Necessary Party? The term “necessary party” has been defined in a variety of ways, but generally most litigators will agree that a “necessary party” is: (1) as a party whose rights and interests are to be affected by a court order; and (2) whose actions with reference to the subject matter of litigation are to be controlled by the court order; or (3) a person without whose joinder as a party an effective court order or judgment cannot be rendered in the plaintiff’s favor; or (4) A person who is materially interested in the subject matter of a suit and who will be directly affected by an adjudication of the controversy. Whatever definition one uses, it is undisputed and well-settled law that if a necessary party hasn’t been named in any kind of […]

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De Facto Trustee Doctrine Recognized

Written by on Jan 23, 2009| Posted in: Estate Litigation

Washington joins other states in growing trend The doctrine of de facto trustee is gaining popularity in its recognition by state court’s and trust and estate jurisprudence. A person is a de facto trustee where the person (1) assumed the office of trustee under a color of right or title and (2) exercised the duties of the office. A person assumes the position of trustee under color of right or title where the person asserts “an authority that was derived from an election or appointment, no matter how irregular the election or appointment might be.” A de facto trustee’s good-faith actions are binding on third persons. Because the purported successor trustee in Allen Trust acted as trustee and assumed its office through an appointment it reasonably believed to be effective, it was a de facto trustee and was entitled to compensation for its services. Washington recently joined the growing number […]

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Trustee’s Duties

Written by on Sep 16, 2008| Posted in: Estate Litigation

TRUSTEE’S DUTIES What is the legal duty of a fiduciary? The answer from Justice Cardozo is still quoted today:  “A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place.  Not honesty alone, but the punctillo of an honor most sensitive, is then the standard of behavior.” Meinhardt v. Salmon, 249 N.Y. 458, 464, 164 N.E. 545, 546 (1928).

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Florida Trust Modification: Trustee Has Standing to Reform and Modify Trust Language

Written by on Sep 16, 2008| Posted in: Trust Litigation

Trust Language Isn’t Set in Stone — Should the Nurse Get the Apartment? Maybe. The Trustee Has Standing to Argue She Should Via Reforming the Language of the Trust. Cecilia Reid was Edgar Sonder’s nurse for several years.  Being a responsible man, Edgar Sonder created a “pour over” trust in May 2000, naming himself as trustee.  (A “pour over” trust is a trust that is funded by assets “pouring over” from an estate, and is a common vehicle used in estate planning.) Later, Mr. Sonder amended the trust, naming Nurse Reid as its sole successor trustee.  The trust in its final version (Edgar Sonder amended the document twice before he died) included instructions on how his assets were to be distributed; several gifts were itemized. First, $31,000 was to be distributed among ten different charities (Art. II, section 1); second, and importantly, after the first gifts were completed, $125,000 was […]

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