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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!” 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 […]

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What is Florida Trustee Surcharge?

What We Do Apr 10, 2021

Florida trust beneficiaries have rights ! And if your Florida trustee is bad, or not giving you information. You can ask a Probate Court to surcharge. What is Florida Trustee surcharge and why is it so important to experienced trust litigators? Florida Trust Code The Florida Trust Code is a set of laws or statutes. They tell beneficiaries about their rights and trustees about their duties. Duties? Yes, under the trust document and Florida Trust Law. These laws will tell you a lot about judicial proceedings and rights and obligations. The Florida Trust Code is probably the single most important document to read besides the trust document itself. And, perhaps most important to beneficiaries. These laws tell you what you get if a trustee commits a BREACH OF TRUST. A breach of trust is a breach of fiduciary duty. What remedies does a beneficiary get? There’s a whole list RIGHT HERE. That’s Florida Statute 736.1001. What about damages? If you want to know about trustee damages, CLICK HERE. That’s Florida Statue 736.1002. But what is this trustee surcharge? Trustee Surcharge Explained Think of trustee surcharge as a personal fine against the trustee. She can’t use trust funds to pay the fine. She has to pay it personally. Individual trustee liability. That’s why you have to sue a trustee in their fiduciary capacity and their individual capacity. A surcharge action can be filed by a trust beneficiary. File a trust complaint under Florida Trust Code Statute 736.0201. You have to plead, […]

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Probate Contingency Fee– how does it work in Florida?

Probate Information Apr 10, 2021
post about Probate Contingency Fee– how does it work in Florida?

A probate contingency fee may be appropriate for certain, limited heirs, family members and beneficiaries. But before you hire a lawyer for your Florida probate matter, consider the pro’s and con’s. Make sure you get your contract in writing and understand your rights and obligations. We have written about CONTINGENCY FEES in Florida before. Now, let’s focus on them in a probate case. Whether they make sense or not. For a FREE CONTINGENCY FEE VIDEO, click here. Such a compensation arrangement may be appropriate to help you get the legal representation you need to be heard in court. These type of fee arrangements may make sense for trust cases, inheritance lawsuits and probates. And I’m not talking just about a will contest. Every day, it seems that beneficiaries need legal representation to deal with their trustee or executor. And the Personal Representative. Does it make sense? When is a probate contingency fee appropriate and does it make sense? Well, many times family members want to OBJECT TO A WILL in Florida. But, they can’t afford a probate lawyer to handle their trial. After all, a will contest, for example, is a trial. And there’s lots of work that goes into preparing your case for trial. Witnesses to depose, hearings, research, discovery and gathering EVIDENCE. Many times, a family member or heir does not have thousands of dollars to pay for a probate trial. Or even to pay a retainer. Important Points That’s where a contingency fee may make sense. Here […]

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What is a contingency fee?

FAQs Apr 10, 2021

A contingency fee has been described as the “keys” to the courthouse. They can help clients who might not otherwise afford an experienced attorney, to hire one. But a Florida client should know the ups and downs, pro’s and con’s. So, what is a contingency fee? For a FREE VIDEO on Florida Contingency Fees, CLICK HERE. Will He Take My Case? Hiring an attorney is tough. After all, how do you know that she is competent and will work hard for you? But, that’s true of any service provider, right? I mean, whether you are hiring a dry cleaner, an architect or a lawyer, you do your homework. But when it comes to Florida estates and trusts, some family members need a probate lawyer that they can’t afford. In many instances, they need a lawyer who specializes in FLORIDA PROBATE LITIGATION. And, you know what I’m going to say next. Some clients want an experienced, smart, aggressive PROBATE TRIAL ATTORNEY. That’s understandable. But the traditional method to pay lawyers is expensive ! And those probate trials take time. With all the discovery, hearings, witnesses and evidence. If there were only a way to hire a good probate litigator in Florida who would take your case and get paid later. That helps you start to understand what is a contingency fee. Why a contingency fee? Let’s define a contingency fee. A contingency fee is when the Florida lawyer takes a % of your recovery or inheritance or damages which you may […]

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What is Standing in a Florida Probate?

FAQs Apr 10, 2021

Understanding what is standing is a key to Florida probate proceedings. Want to contest the will? Well, you need standing. Do you want financial information about the probate assets? Same comment. You need standing. We have previously discussed HEIRSHIP in Florida probates and who can CONTEST THE WILL. Let’s dig a bit deeper into this legal definition of standing in Florida probates. The Florida Probate Code The Florida Probate Code is found HERE in the Florida Statutes. You can read all about probate and personal representatives and accountings. But there is very little information about standing. What is standing is a legal concept. Explained and defined by the Florida Appellate Courts. Think of it as the “connection” someone must have to a lawsuit or legal matter. After all, not everyone can participate in a Florida probate. Or a lawsuit. They don’t have a right to. Some “Jane” or “Joe” can’t just walk in off the street and get involved. You need some connection to the deceased Florida resident, her property, or the people who are involved. What is Standing Defined In Florida probates, you have to be an “INTERESTED PERSON” to participate. An interested person means that you are going to be affected by what’s going on. Now, interested person is different than an “indispensable party.” An interested person in the Florida Probate Code means any person who may reasonably be expected to be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved. You can read all the definitions at […]

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Florida Heirship

Probate Information Apr 10, 2021
post about Florida Heirship

Who inherits from a Florida estate if you are not sure if the deceased person is your parent? Well, Florida law permits you to ask a Probate Judge to determine if you are a child. Many times, after someone dies, adult children come to the estate and suggest that they are a child. They want to inherit or have LEGAL STANDING to Contest The Will. A child might inherit under a POUR OVER WILL, from an intestate estate, or even from a Florida Trust. We have written about a Petition to Determine Heirs before. Now, you can read an April 1, 2021 opinion from Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal on Florida Heirship. And what it takes to establish paternity. (Hint: it takes more than having a person’s name on your birth certificate.) How to Inherit If There Is No Florida Will If there is no Florida will, we say that the Florida Probate is an INTESTATE ESTATE. You can read the Florida Probate Code laws on an Intestate Estate by clicking HERE. Heirs inherit when there is no will in Florida. We previously posted free Florida probate commentary on Heirs . That link includes a consideration of who is a Florida Heir? Florida Heirship Appeal: April 1, 2021 In this April 1, 2021 Florida Heirship appeal, a Personal Representative/ Appellant, won. His appeal victory caused a reversal of a summary judgment (probate court) ruling. The Probate Judge found an adult claiming to be a child was an “heir” and […]

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What is a Qualified Beneficiary?

What We Do Apr 8, 2021
post about What is a Qualified Beneficiary?

Under Florida Trust Law, qualified beneficiaries have lots of rights. If you are the beneficiary of a Florida Trust, do you know what your rights are? Trustees also need to know what their duties to their beneficiaries are. After all, if a Trustee falls short, they commit a BREACH OF TRUST. We have provided solid free TRUST LEGAL COMMENTARY on beneficiary rights and trust disputes. Now, let’s answer the question what is a qualified beneficiary of a Florida Trust. For a free video on trust administration and beneficiary rights, click HERE. Defining Qualified Beneficiary The Florida Trust Code is found at Florida Statutes, Chapter 736. It has a set of definitions. Florida Statute 731.0103 (16) defines qualified beneficiary. To read about money and trust principal and income, click on Chapter 738, Florida Statutes. A “Qualified beneficiary” is defined as a beneficiary who is currently alive. And, on the date the beneficiary’s qualification is determined: (a) Is a distributee or permissible distributee of trust income or principal; (b) Would be a distributee or permissible distributee of trust income or principal if the interests of the distributees described in paragraph (a) terminated on that date without causing the trust to terminate; or (c) Would be a distributee or permissible distributee of trust income or principal if the trust terminated in accordance with its terms on that date. A distributee is someone to whom the trustee may give trust funds or money. Some distributees are mandatory distributees. An example of this is if the trust […]

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What is Breach of Trust in Florida?

What We Do Apr 6, 2021
post about What is Breach of Trust in Florida?

What is breach of trust in Florida? We have previously written about breach of trust. Now, we’ll dig a bit deeper. Breaches are serious business for trustees and beneficiaries. Bad Florida Trustees Breach A breach of trust in Florida is a breach of fiduciary duty by a fiduciary. Fiduciaries can include trustees and personal representatives. Personal Representatives run estates. Trustees administer trusts. They both owe their beneficiaries serious duties. Fiduciary duties include such things as being loyal, prudent, acting in good faith and with impartiality. A breach of fiduciary duty is when a person owes another a fiduciary duty. And that fiduciary breaches, or breaks, her duties. The breach causes damage. The Florida Trust Code uses this phrase. But a breach of trust in Florida is a breach of fiduciary duty. A trustee who breaches can be ordered to return money to the trust like trustee compensation. Or damages and attorneys fees and costs. Calculating damages in a breach case is an important part of your litigation strategy. A bad trustee can also be ordered to pay a fine, also known as a surcharge. What Do Florida Appeals Courts Say Florida appellate courts interpret the law and the decisions of probate judges. They issue opinions. They tell us what the law means. To read an APPELLATE DECISION about this topic, for free, CLICK HERE.

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Florida Breach of Trust– what is it

What We Do Apr 6, 2021
post about Florida Breach of Trust– what is it

If you are a trustee or beneficiary of a Florida Trust, you have probably heard the words “breach of trust.” But what really is a Florida Breach of Trust? Well, we are going to answer that question in plain-English. We have previously provided FREE LEGAL TRUST COMMENTARY about breach of fiduciary duty, SUSPENDING A FLORIDA TRUSTEE and also REMOVING a Florida Trustee. Let’s explore this trust concept for Florida beneficiaries and trustees. Florida Trust Law The Florida Trust Code is a set of statutes. Chapter 736 will tell you “all” you need to know ’bout trusts in Fla. You can read it for free. Trustees may want to know about DEFENDING a breach lawsuit. The truth is that a breach of trust is a breach of fiduciary duty. To read a case which DEFINES what a breach of fiduciary duty is, CLICK HERE. This case also reveals that a breach of fiduciary duty action is different from a claim to an accounting. Trustees owe their beneficiaries lots of DUTIES. When a trustee falls short or “breaks” those duties, that’s a breach. When a trustee falls below the standard of care of a reasonable trustee, she can be liable to the trust for DAMAGES. Trust beneficiaries can click HERE to learn what remedies they have against their trustee. Here is a LIST of all the duties your trustee owes you. Trust Caselaw Appellate opinions are referred to as “caselaw.” Appellate courts review trial court orders. In Florida, most trials involving a […]

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Florida Life Insurance Trusts

Probate Information Apr 5, 2021
post about Florida Life Insurance Trusts

Florida Life Insurance Trusts hold billions and billions of dollars. And with good reason. Most Floridians have some type of life insurance. And if you place the insurance into an irrevocable trust the correct way, it can be income and estate tax free. But, admittedly, there can be a lot of probate litigation of life insurance and trusts when the insured life dies. A March 31, 2021 opinion from the 4th District Court of Appeal tells us how to interpret, or read, insurance contracts when there is a disagreement. We have previously provided commentary on DIVORCE and LIFE INSURANCE. Now, let’s discuss policy construction or interpretation. For a free legal video of how to make a claim for life insurance money, CLICK HERE. Life Insurance’s Role Life insurance shifts the risk of loss to another — the insurance company. It is used by family law or divorce attorneys in Florida a lot. Many times, a divorcing couple have minor children. When they get divorced, often someone is getting life insurance for the minors. In the corporate or business context, Estate Planning Lawyers often see companies purchase life insurance. They want money if a key employee or executive dies. For family businesses, life insurance can create liquidity to pay estate taxes or expenses when a wealthy individual dies. But many times parties have a disagreement about a CHANGE OF BENEFICIARY to a policy. Many times former spouses or ex spouses fight over ENTITLEMENT to a life insurance contract after the death […]

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