The Florida Trust Code continues to grow and respond to the suggestions of the Florida Bar and Florida Trust Lawyers. A recent example is the recent enactment of Senate Bill 492 which made a number of changes that were recommended by Florida Trust Lawyers participating in the Florida Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar.
One of the more significant changes of the Florida Trust Code used by Florida Trust Attorneys, which becomes effective October 1, 2013, is the expansion of the long-arm jurisdiction of Florida Courts to adjudicate trust disputes. Many Florida Probate lawyers and Florida Trust attorneys remember the lesson from Pennoyer v. Neff, a SCOTUS opinion from 1878 which held that service over a person or property physically within a state confers jurisdiction to that person or property.
But what happens when a beneficiary of a Florida trust has a dispute with a state Trustee? How do the beneficiary and his or her Florida lawyer request the Florida Court to exercise jurisdiction over a person or financial institution not physically present in the jurisdiction (Florida)?
International Shoe Co. v. Washington, a 1945 SCOTUS opinion, introduced the idea that contacts by a person or company with jurisdiction would confer a court’s power extraterritorially. Many states developed rules and statutes regarding how to hold scoundrels who wreak havoc in their jurisdiction accountable through the exercise of long-arm personal jurisdiction. The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that if there is a statute authorizing jurisdiction and if the defendant has sufficient minimum contacts with Florida such that maintaining the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice, a Florida court may exercise jurisdiction over the defendant.
However, the current Florida Trust Code does not contain a comprehensive long-arm statute for litigation relating to a trust. The newly enacted section of the Florida Trust Code that takes effect in October amends the existing Code to create a comprehensive long-arm statute for litigation of trusts. It specifies acts or conduct that allow Florida Courts to acquire jurisdiction over a nonresident trustee. These include:
(1) A Trustee who accepts a trust if the principal place of business of the trust is in Florida
(2) A trustee who moves a trust to Florida
(3) A trustee who commits a breach of trust in this state
(4) A beneficiary or person who accepts distribution or compensation from a trust if the principal place of business of the trust is in Florida.
(5) A person who performs a service for a trust when the principal place of business of the trust is in Florida.
If you need a Florida Trust Lawyer, call Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A. for a free consultation.