Trust Accountings and Litigation

In trust litigation a dispute between a beneficiary and the trustee of a trust is not uncommon.  Florida law provides that a trustee of an irrevocable trust has a duty to inform and account to a qualified beneficiary pursuant to Fla. Stat. 736.0813.  However, what happens where a qualified beneficiary has never received an accounting and then seeks redress in Court for the actions of a trustee years later?

The Third District Court of Appeal recently considered such a matter in Taplin v. Taplin, 88 So. 2d 344 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).    In Taplin, the trial court dismissed a second amended complaint with prejudice filed by a qualified beneficiary against the Co-Trustees of a trust.  The complaint had sought an accounting, breach of trust removal of trustees and surcharge.  The dismissal was based upon failure to object within the six-month limitation period provided by Florida law (at that time Florida Statute 737.307, which has since been replaced by 736.108) or the four-year statute of limitations for an intentional tort under Fla. Stat. 95.11(3)(o).  In other words, the trial court found that the second amended complaint was time-barred.

The appellate court reversed the dismissal, holding that the limitation period was only applicable in instances where accountings “fully disclosing the matter” were actually served upon the beneficiary.  In Taplin the appellate court determined that, as per reviewing the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, an accounting was never received by the plaintiff.  Citing a prior case, the court stated, “[i]t has long been recognized at common law that a statute of limitations is inapplicable to shield trustees from their responsibilities to their beneficiaries.   The Plaintiff in Taplin was twelve years old when the trust at issue was established which could raise additional questions regarding proper service of an accounting in an accounting, although that issue was not addressed in the opinion.

If you are a trust beneficiary and have not been getting proper accountings mandated by Florida Law, call the probate attorneys at Adrian Philip Thomas, PA for a free consultation regarding your rights and potential remedies.       

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