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Trust Standing Florida — who can attack a trust?

In the News • Oct 22, 2021
post about Trust Standing Florida — who can attack a trust?

Want to object to a trust? You need trust standing Florida to bring a trust contest. Also called a “trust challenge.” That means you have to have some connection to the trust, a prior trust, the trustee, or the dead person who created it. A recent Florida Appellate Court decision tells you more about whether you can attack a trust. It’s worth a read whether you want to have the trust voided, or if you are the trustee, and you have to defend the lawsuit.

Trust standing Florida is a legal issue which experienced trial attorneys know a lot about.

1st Steps 1st — what is standing and why do I need it?

What is trust standing Florida? Why does it matter?

Think of standing as the legal connection one has to the trust. After all, everybody in the world can’t come in and object to a trust or launch a trust challenge. You need some connection. You have to have an interest that was affected by a trust before you can file a trust lawsuit attacking it.

And it matters for two reasons. 1st, family members and prior beneficiaries may want to challenge a change to the trust if there was undue influence or fraud.

And — 2nd — let’s face it, there are a lot of trusts in Florida! Holding billions and billions of dollars.

And many times, a trust will be “restated” or “amended.” Or revoked ! And a new trust created.

Not surprisingly, those trust documents often leaven out certain family members, or beneficiaries. Sometimes they leave more to another family member. …. Or strangers, or in-laws, and, yes, sometimes outlaws !

Alleging, and then proving, standing is part of your burden when you file a trust lawsuit or even object to probate. You have to demonstrate that you inherit or are trustee under a prior trust. Or that you are a current or future beneficiary. What the Florida Trust Code calls a “qualified beneficiary.”

You have to show a direct interest in the lawsuit, or the trust, and that you will be affected by the outcome. If you can pass that test, you have standing.

If you can’t pass that test, then you will be dismissed from the case.

To read about standing in Florida Probate, click HERE.

Learning More About Trust Standing Florida

On October 20, 2021, the 3rd District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in a case called Bivins v. Douglas. This was a standing case. It determined that a son of the trust creator could not bring a trust attack. A trust contest. An alleged son. That son had not proved paternity within the required time frame. We recently wrote about proving paternity in estate cases and Florida probates– about heirship. But even if someone is an “heir” or a daughter or son, that does not necessarily give you standing for a trust lawsuit. Probate? We can talk about that and if a will is not valid or someone dies without a Florida will.

To read another appeals court opinion on Trust Standing Florida, read the Cruz v. Community Bank & Trust of Florida case from Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal.