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How Do I Appeal A Trustee’s Decision?

What We Do • Apr 11, 2021

Trust beneficiaries know that many Florida trusts give lots of DISCRETION to a trustee. That discretion may include giving trust money to you. Or not. What does a trust beneficiary do when they want to appeal a trustee’s decision? How is this done? Let’s assume that you asked a trustee for money. And she said “no!”

How Do I Appeal a Trustee’s Decision?

2 Things Every Trust Beneficiary Must Read

So, there are 2 things which every trust beneficiary should understand. The Trust Document itself and the Florida Trust Code. You can also watch a FREE FLORIDA TRUST VIDEO on trust administration + beneficiary rights. The Trust Document itself is the legal document which creates the trust. It’s like a will. It will tell the trustee, who runs your trust, what to do with the money at every step of the way. That document also tells you how long the trust will last. Perhaps most importantly for a trust beneficiary, it tells you how to get money. Or, put another way. It tells the trustee under what circumstances money from the trust may be distributed to a beneficiary. Trust funds may be used for your benefit. Such as making distributions to your spouse or children if permissible. Or directly to your service providers. This can include paying your health insurance, auto payment, mortgage, or credit card bills. So, what do you do if you asked your trustee for money and they said “no” ? Here’s 5 steps on how to appeal your trustee’s decision

5 Steps Every Beneficiary Should Know

First, read, or re-read the trust. You need to understand how money may be distributed to you. If the trust says that you may ask for money for an automobile. Should you really expect to get money for a third one if you have two? If the trust says that the trustee may distribute funds for health, maintenance and welfare, consider putting together a budget. 2nd, consider how you asked for the money. Put it in writing. An email is sufficient. Reference the part of the trust that makes you believe you can get money. Give an explanation. Help your trustee understand why you want or need the money. 3rd, provide back up. If you want money for a new house, provide a listing agreement or appraisal. Need money for college, where’s the bill ? Gather your invoices folks. And don’t be surprised if your trustee does not want to give you the money but is willing to pay the service or product provider directly. 4th, if you are turned down, ask for feedback. Why are you not getting trust funds? Ask them to explain what happened. If the trustee is a corporate fiduciary like a bank or trust department, they usually have a committee. What was discussed? Is there any more information you need? What were your concerns? Is there anything which you can do that will assist the trustee in making a distribution?

Trust Beneficiary Lawsuit

Finally, 5th. You have to sue. Trust beneficiaries have a lot of RIGHTS in Florida. There is an entire part of the Florida Trust Code that talks about JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS. If you believe your trustee acted improperly, or violated the trust, file a trust action under Fla. Stat. 736.0201. But be careful. If you lose, you may have to pay the trust attorneys fees and costs. BUT, if you win, and the trustee acted badly, the trustee may be surcharged. In that instance, the trustee may have to give back compensation, or reimburse you or the trust for attorneys fees and costs. No guarantees. No one, I mean no one, has a crystal ball. And just because a trustee said “no” does not mean that what she did was wrong. A Probate Judge can give you the relief which you want, if you know how to ask for it. Even when the trustee did nothing wrong. And remember, there are statutes of limitations and defenses which help trustees. The law does not help those who SIT on their rights. The law helps those who come forward seeking justice and relief. Many the best thing you do is not sue. That’s a personal and financial decision on the beneficiary’s part. But, if you want to appeal that trustee decision, don’t wait.