Florida Trust Litigation: Compelling the Disclosure of a Florida Trust’s Financial Records
Are you the beneficiary of a Florida trust? Has the trustee provided you with an accounting? Do you know how much the Florida trust you inherit from is worth? Do you believe that a trustee has stolen money from the trust? How can you compel the trustee of a Florida trust to disclose the trust’s financial records? When should you hire a West Palm Beach trust attorney?
Florida Beneficiary Rights To Relevant Information
Beneficiaries of a Palm beach trust have a right, under Florida probate and trust law, to “relevant information.” This includes a right to receive accountings.
Therefore, when you are the beneficiary of a West Palm Beach or Miami trust, you have a right to request, from the trustee, an accounting of that trust.
In Florida, trustees actually have a duty to provide an annual accounting. Florida Statute 736.0813 (d) says that “a trustee of an irrevocable trust shall provide a trust accounting, as set forth in s. 736.08135, from the date of the last accounting or, if none, from the date on which the trustee became accountable, to each qualified beneficiary at least annually and on termination of the trust or on change of the trustee.”
Trust Lawsuits in Florida
If you are the beneficiary of a Florida trust, and you believe the trustee is hiding something, or has stolen money, you may decide to sue the trustee. The trustee has a duty to communicate certain information to the trust beneficiaries. If the trustee is ignoring your inquiries, refusing to provide you with answers to your questions regarding the trust, or failing to send you accountings, you should consider interviewing an experienced trust and estates attorney.
The West Palm Beach trust lawyers at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, frequently represent beneficiaries in trust lawsuits. Sometimes, trust lawsuits are filed against the trustee in an attempt to remove them as trustee for wrongdoing or breach of fiduciary duty. Other times, trust lawsuits are filed by beneficiaries to obtain information or a trust accounting.
Recent Florida Lawsuit for Trust Records
A recent Second DCA opinion, Hett v. Barron-Lunde, is a good example of a Florida trust lawsuit where a beneficiary of the trust sues the trustee. Here, the complaint against the trustee raised claims of civil theft, conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and seeked the imposition of a constructive trust.
During the lawsuit, the beneficiary served nonparty subpoenas on the trustee’s financial institutions along with the law firm who set up the Florida trust requesting ” any and all documentation” related to any account held by the trustee as trustee or as an individual.
The trial court found the requests relevant and issued an order compelling the trustee to produce her personal tax returns and financial information and ordering the disclosure of nonparty trust records. The trustee filed an appeal seeking certiorari review of this discovery order.
In regards to the trust disclosures, the appellate court found that the relevancy of the Trust’s financial records was not apparent from the face of the complaint, and that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of the law by compelling the disclosure of these records without holding an evidentiary hearing to determine relevancy.
If you are involved in a Florida trust lawsuit, or need to file a lawsuit against a Florida trustee, consider interviewing a West Palm Beach law firm that limits its practice to litigation and appeals involving wills, trusts, estates and business disputes. For a free consultation with an attorney at Pankauski Hauser Lazarus, call (561)514-0900 ext.101