South Florida Trust Litigation Attorneys - Lawyers for Trust Contests and Challenges to Trusts
Trusts are controlled by the Florida Trust Code, which is found in Title XLII, Chapter 736 of the Florida Statutes. There can be revocable trusts or irrevocable trusts, and while these trusts are established to help the beneficiaries and to efficiently administer the trust property, there are many times when controversies arise between the beneficiaries, the trustee, and/or others and lawsuits may need to be filed.
What is a Trust?
In Florida, it is common for people to use a trust as a way to provide for the distribution of their assets at death, or during life, rather than a will. Proper use of a trust can avoid the probate process or much of it and there are many advantages for doing so.
A “trust” is a creation by one person for the benefit of one or more people, where property is placed with the trust for them to have and use, either immediately or at a specific time in the future. There are many kinds of trusts, some are “revocable,” meaning that the person who created the trust can terminate it; others are “irrevocable,” which means that one the creator puts his or her property into the trust they cannot get it back. Other trusts exist under Florida law; for example, there are “constructive trusts,” land trusts, bank account trusts, and more.
Here is how the Florida Legislature defined a Florida Trust in Section 731.201 (38) of the Florida Trust Code:
“Trust” means an express trust, private or charitable, with additions to it, wherever and however created. It also includes a trust created or determined by a judgment or decree under which the trust is to be administered in the manner of an express trust. “Trust” excludes other constructive trusts, and it excludes resulting trusts; conservatorships; custodial arrangements pursuant to the Florida Uniform Transfers to Minors Act; business trusts providing for certificates to be issued to beneficiaries; common trust funds; land trusts under s. 689.071, except to the extent provided in s. 689.071(7); trusts created by the form of the account or by the deposit agreement at a financial institution; voting trusts; security arrangements; liquidation trusts; trusts for the primary purpose of paying debts, dividends, interest, salaries, wages, profits, pensions, or employee benefits of any kind; and any arrangement under which a person is nominee or escrowee for another.
Trust Litigation in Florida – Filing a Lawsuit to Challenge a Trust (or a Trustee)
When serious disputes over something happening regarding a Florida trust arise, then it is necessary to get the advice and help of an experienced trial lawyer. Having a lawyer who is also a skilled trust litigation attorney with experience in resolving trust disputes is important not only when a lawsuit is filed in a Florida Probate Court, but also before the pleadings are filed: alternative dispute resolution (mediation, settlement negotiations) overseen by a knowledgeable and savvy trust trial lawyer may get a fast resolution without the need of going to court.
What is Florida Trust Litigation?
In Florida, trust litigation is simply the realm of lawsuits (or claims upon which a lawsuit can be filed) involving Florida trusts and Florida trust law. Sometimes, these are dry and detailed proceedings where trust language is clarified or accounting issues are resolved. In other situations, these cases can be very volatile, complex, and emotionally intense.
Florida’s trust lawsuits can include cases filed to obtain a judgment from a Florida Probate Court Judge about the legally correct interpretation of unclear or confusing language in the trust so that the right people are included as trust beneficiaries; or the trust property is properly allocated between the beneficiaries; or income tax issues – and who pays what amount – are decided. These are “trust construction proceedings.”
Another example of a Florida trust litigation matter is when a trust needs to be changed in some way; these are “trust reformation” lawsuits, where a Florida Judge decides what language truly follows the intention of the person who created the trust (the “testator”).
However, most Florida trust litigation regarding the Florida Trust involves legal disputes based upon undue influence or lack of mental capacity challenges to the testator when the trust was created and signed. These are “trust contests” and they are very similar to the more commonly known contests to a Last Will and Testament. These are challenges to the validity of the trust as a whole by someone who thinks that the trust, as written, cannot be reconciled with the known intent of the person who created the trust and placed their property into it. For a detailed discussion on this topic, please read our page on Florida Trust Lawsuits and 5 different ways a trust can be challenged.
In Florida Trust Litigation, lawyers on one side of the case represent the trustee and on the other, Florida trust trial lawyers represent some or all of the trust beneficiaries in their challenge to the trust itself or to actions undertaken by the trustee (or someone improperly involved in the creation of the trust itself). Sometimes the beneficiaries will not agree, family members often don’t see eye to eye, and there may be family factions represented by their own Florida trust lawyer.
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Hallandale Law: Florida Trust Lawyers Helping People in Broward County and South Florida
The Florida Trust Lawyers at Hallandale Law help people in Broward County and the Miami Dade Metroplex and its surrounding areas in all kinds of Florida Trust Litigation. As experienced Florida Trust attorneys, we offer clients involved in trust controversies or trust challenges and claims the advantage of having a Florida trust lawyer at their side, advocating on their behalf in the application of Florida Trust Law to their situation.
Whether or not you reside in Florida or you live in another state or country, you will face the application of Florida Law – and the Florida Trust Code -- to any Florida trust issue. If you believe that you have a concern, claim, or challenge involving a Florida Trust then please feel free to contact our offices for a free initial consultation.
Florida trial lawyer Alan Sackrin is a Board Certified trial expert with over 30 years of courtroom and settlement negotiation experience. Please feel free to contact trial attorney Alan Sackrin today for a free consultation.
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