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Florida Trust Fraud

Probate Information • Oct 22, 2021
post about Florida Trust Fraud

Disinherited from a trust? Bad trustee? If you are a financial victim and lost an inheritance, you don’t have a lot of time to act. Depending upon what your trustee, or her trust lawyer, may have sent to you, you may only have 6 months. To do what? To file a trust contest or object to the validity of the trust. Or to object to trust money decisions. We have previously discussed Florida Probate Fraud. Now, let’s talk about Florida Trust Fraud. (To see a free Florida Trust Video on a trust challenge, click HERE.)

Probate court judges rule on Florida Trust Fraud cases

Kinds of Fraud — bad trustees

Under Florida law, there are actually many types of fraud.

Constructive fraud is when a person who is required to disclose information does not. Sounds like a bad trustee, right? You got it.

The Florida Trust Code sets forth a LOT of trust beneficiary rights. And, there are also a lot of DUTIES owed by a trustee to her beneficiaries. So much more than just an annual accounting.

A trustee has to give “qualified beneficiaries” notice of the trust with her contact information, the name of the trustee. And the trustee has to give you a copy of the trust. No hiding the ball ! (That’s fraud !) And, a trustee is REQUIRED to provide relevant data when you, a beneficiary, asks questions.

So, if the trustee lies, that’s fraud.

Intentionally withholds information? Fraud!

And if the trustee steals, we KNOW that’s fraud, right? That’s what Florida Probate Litigators call a “defalcation.” Now, we are not going to get into Civil Theft, but you should know your rights.

If the trustee is required to disclose information and intentionally does not do that, that’s fraud. You mean if a trustee is not completely transparent, that can be fraud? Yes, it can be. Now, experienced trust LITIGATORS who actually try cases– and handle trust appeals– will tell you that “it depends.” But fraud cases are fact-specific.

And don’t be intimidated about making your case. That’s what good trust trial attorneys are for. Many times, fraud is proven by circumstantial evidence. And many trust beneficiaries live hundreds if not thousands of miles away from their trustee. In other words, they are not there to witness the fraud first hand. It’s OK. You can still prove fraud in your Florida Trust Fraud Trial.

Florida Trust Fraud

But, now let’s look at Florida Trust Fraud from different legal angle. Let’s move away from the trustee doing bad things.

What if someone improperly lied and forced someone to sign a trust? Or change the beneficiaries? Or amend it improperly?

That can be fraud too.

A trust which is caused by UNDUE INFLUENCE is void. That’s clear as day in a Florida Trust Law Statute. You might need to file a Trust Contest. See Florida Trust Law 736.0207.

If you have questions about how a trust is created. Or what it takes for a valid trust amendment or revocation, check out PART IV of the Trust Code.

One last word. Sometimes fraud is not discovered for years ! So, don’t necessarily think that you are out of luck if discover something way after it was done. You might have a great case with lots of punitive damages and interest.