Florida Trust Litigation Lawyer

Trust litigation arises when a dispute arises between a beneficiary and the trustee over a trust’s creation, administration, or distribution of assets. Whether you are a trust beneficiary or a trustee involved in a dispute, a trust litigation attorney can guide you through the complexities of Florida trust law and protect your rights. 

Based in Stuart, Florida, The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, P.A., can help you decide whether a trust contest is the right course of action to achieve your desired outcome. 

What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Trust in Florida?

A trust is a legal entity to which the creator, known as the settlor, transfers ownership of assets such as financial accounts and real estate holdings for the benefit of one or more other parties, known as beneficiaries.  A trustee administrates the trust. 

Trusts are commonly used in estate planning because assets transferred to a trust can avoid the probate process, expediting asset distribution to beneficiaries and avoiding expenses. 

Suppose you’re a beneficiary of a trust in Florida and have an objection over the trust’s creation or administration or how the trust assets will be distributed. In that case, Florida law provides several grounds for contesting a trust.  

Lack of Mental Capacity of the Settlor

To establish a valid trust, the settlor must understand the nature and purpose of creating the trust, the nature and extent of the assets transferred into the trust, and the consequences of transferring assets into the trust. 

The settlor’s inability to comprehend the terms and consequences of the trust may serve as grounds for contesting the trust.  

Breach of Fiduciary Duty by the Trustee

A trustee has a fiduciary duty to administer the trust in good faith and in an ethical manner that complies with the trust’s terms and serves the interests of the beneficiaries. A beneficiary or other interested party who believes the trustee has violated this duty can contest the trust in court.

Other acts of misconduct by the trustee that may serve as grounds for a trust challenge include the following: 

Fraud, Duress, or Undue Influence Over the Settlor

Under Florida law, the trust is void if a trust’s creation, amendment, or restatement resulted from fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence. 

A successful challenge on these grounds may result in the court voiding the entire trust or any portion that resulted from fraud, duress, mistake, or undue influence.

Florida Trust Laws

Florida trusts are presumed revocable unless the terms expressly state the trust is irrevocable. A revocable trust allows you to transfer ownership of assets to a new entity while retaining control over the assets. A settlor may amend or revoke this type of trust at any point during their lifetime. 

On the other hand, modification of irrevocable trusts requires the consent of the trustee and all beneficiaries or judicial approval. 

Oral trusts are permitted in Florida, although trusts are commonly created by drafting and signing a trust agreement. A trust agreement designates a trustee to manage and oversee the property within the trust and provides instructions for distributing your assets upon your death by naming beneficiaries.

An experienced Florida estate planning attorney can answer your questions about the role of trusts in estate planning.  

What to Look for in a Florida Trust Litigation Attorney

If you are a beneficiary pursuing a trust contest or a trustee defending one, you need a Florida trust litigation attorney with extensive experience in trust dispute cases.  

The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, P.A., has a proven track record of success in trust litigation matters. Our experienced Florida trust litigation lawyers understand the complexities of the laws governing trusts and trust litigation and are committed to client success.  

What if Your Trustee Did Not Act in Your Best Interests?

If you are a trust beneficiary, and the trustee does not act in your best interest, you may file suit—also referred to as a trust contest. Remedies available for breach of trust include the following: 

Your complaint may request damages such as an order that the trustee restore the value of the trust property and trust distributions to what they would have been absent the breach or pay any profits the trustee made due to the breach. 

What are the Alternatives to Contesting a Trust in Court?

In a trust dispute, litigation is not always required to achieve your desired outcome. A skilled trust attorney can walk you through the alternatives to contesting a trust in court. These options may include: 

Non-judicial Settlement Agreements

With a non-judicial settlement agreement, the interested parties to a trust may craft a binding agreement outside of court, resolving any disputed matters. While not required, an interested party may request court approval of a nonjudicial settlement agreement. 

Removal of a Trustee

Interested parties to a trust, including the settlor, a co-trustee, or a beneficiary, may request that the court remove a trustee. The court may remove a trustee on its own initiative on any one of the following grounds:

Trust Modification and Termination

Trust modification changes the terms of a trust from their original form. In certain circumstances, when the trustee and all beneficiaries agree, court approval is not required to modify the terms of a trust.

If you are seeking the non-judicial resolution of a trust dispute, it is important to consult with an experienced trust litigation attorney for legal assistance.  

Trust Reformation

Trust reformation is available to correct a mistake made when in the trust’s terms. Any interested party may request that the court reform the trust’s terms to conform to the settlor’s intent. The court will reform the trust’s terms if clear and convincing evidence proves that both the accomplishment of the settlor’s intent and the terms of the trust were affected by a mistake of fact or law. 

How The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker Can Help with Your Trust Litigation Case

Whether you are a trustee or trust beneficiary, the dedicated trust litigation attorneys at The Law Offices of Travis R. Walker, PA, can protect your rights. Our attorneys have extensive experience resolving trust disputes. We have a proven track record of producing favorable results, as demonstrated by the testimonials provided by our clients

Contact us at (772) 773-1269 to schedule a consultation to discuss your trust dispute. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Trust Litigation in Florida

As a Trust Beneficiary, Do I Have Any Right to Contest the Trustee’s Administration of the Trust?

Yes. A trustee is obligated to administer the trust in good faith, in accordance with its terms, and solely in the interests of the beneficiaries. If you suspect a breach of this duty or another type of misconduct, there are steps you can take to contest the trust administration. 

What Are Some Possible Outcomes When a Trustee Has Not Acted in the Beneficiary’s Best Interests?

A court may compel the trustee to take certain actions, including paying money or restoring property to the trust. In certain situations, the court may suspend or remove the trustee and appoint a special fiduciary to take possession of the trust property and administer the trust. 

If I Suspect a Trustee Has Wrongly Managed the Trust to Which I’m a Beneficiary, Do I Have to Go to Court?

Litigation is not always required to achieve the desired outcome of a trust dispute. A skilled trust attorney can walk you through the alternatives, including nonjudicial settlement agreements, trust reformation, modification, and termination. 

Are the Terms of a Trust Valid if the Person Creating It Didn’t Understand What They Were Doing?

No. To establish a valid trust, the settlor must understand the nature and purpose of creating the trust, the nature and extent of the assets involved, and the consequences of transferring assets into the trust. An interested party may challenge a trust when they believe the settlor lacks the mental capacity to comprehend its terms. 

Why Do I Need to Hire a Trust Litigation Lawyer?

An experienced trust litigation lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of Florida trust law, learn about your options for resolution, and increase the likelihood that you will achieve a favorable outcome.