Blogs from July, 2012

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There are many times when trustees, beneficiaries, or others with an interest in the trust’s assets will challenge the terms of a trust, the actions of a trustee, or the validity of the entire trust instrument itself, and lawsuits will be filed. Florida Trust Litigation situations can include:

Trust Contests – Sometimes beneficiaries and/or people excluded from a trust will file a lawsuit challenging the legal validity of a Trust. They may do so in any number of ways, such as asserting mistakes in execution, undue influence, or lack of capacity.  The causes of action for a trust dispute or trust contest are substantially similar to those for a will contest.

Trust Construction – There are occasions when a Trust contains language that is confusing or even contradictory.  Mistakes can be made, or ambiguities can arise when Trusts are prepared. Afterward, a lawsuit may be needed in order for a judge to rule on whether or not Florida laws will allow the Trust to be revised or reformed, even after the Settlor’s death.

Challenges to the Trustee – Many lawsuits dealing with Trusts in Florida courtrooms are focused upon the actions of the Trustee in implementing the language of the trust documents, and not challenging the content of the Trust itself. These challenges to the actions (or inactions) of the Trustee can include breach of fiduciary duty, removal of fiduciary, surcharge action, or accounting.

How do I stay out of Court?  Under Florida’s Trust Code, which became effective in July 2007, there are now several options for trust beneficiaries or interested persons who are seeking justice in connection with a Florida Trust other than seeking to have a trust declared invalid, in whole or in part.  The Code provides for Nonjudicial settlement agreements, Trust Modification and/or Termination, and Trust Reformation.

If you have a Florida Trust Litigation question, call the attorneys at Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. for a free consultation.

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