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How to Read or Interpret a Florida Trust Document

The Hansen case from 2009, an appellate trust case deals with how a judge should interpret a trust document based on what was the intent of the person who wrote the document.

How to read or interpret a Florida Trust document. Hello, my name is John Pankauski, I’m a trust lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida. Do you ever have a trust dispute or a trust lawsuit in Florida and one of the issues is what does that trust document say. You may think it is clear and it says one thing, somebody else like a trustee or a beneficiary or a lawyer may say it says something else. How does a court in Florida interpret or read a trust document? Consider reading the Hansen case, the Hansen case is a 2009 case from Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal the citation is 10 southern 3rd 213. In this particular case 2009 Florida appellate trust case, the court tells us how to read or interpret a trust document and specifically we know that the poll star or the main guiding light to trust interpretation is what did the person who created the trust intend, what was the intent of the person who created it. And secondly a very important interpretation concept for reading trusts or contracts or wills in Florida is if the term or the phrase in the trust is un-ambigiuos, if it is clear on it’s face, the judge reads it and tells us what it says. You don’t get to resort to evidence what trust litigators call parole evidence or intrinsic evidence to have somebody try to the judge what it means. The judge just reads it and tell you what it says. That’s very important from a procedural and evidentuary standpoint. Why? Well the lawyers in my firm handle trust disputes throughout the entire state of Florida and I can tell you many many times we are in court and a lawyer is going to try and tell a judge what a trust document is suppose to say. Many times that is not evidence and sometimes if it is evidence such as if the lawyer is sworn in, it’s inadmissible. Knowing how to prohibit testimony from coming in is part of an important part of being a trial lawyer or what we call exclusionary principles of evidence. My name is John Pankauski and thank you for listening.