Pompano Beach Validity of Trust Lawyer
Trusts are excellent vehicles for estate planning in Florida. Trusts help to transfer property and assets to beneficiaries without the time, expense or hassle of probate. Trusts also help maintain privacy and confidentiality regarding one’s estate, and they allow the person creating the trust to maintain control and set conditions for the distribution of trust assets according to the settlor’s goals and desires. To be valid, however, trusts must meet certain requirements under Florida law regarding how they are created and used. Also, beneficiaries may challenge the validity of a trust if they believe the terms are unfair and were the product of fraud, duress or undue influence. When challenges to the validity of a trust arise, Pompano Beach estate litigation attorney Mark R. Manceri provides, skilled, thoughtful representation based on decades of experience as a Florida Bar Board-Certified Specialist in wills, trusts and estates.
Requirements for a valid trust in Florida
Certain legal formalities must be present in order to create a valid trust under Florida’s Trust Code. There are many different types of trusts which can be created (revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, charitable trusts, pet care trusts, spendthrift trusts, etc.) and many different ways in which trusts can be created. In general, however, a trust can only be validly created in Florida if it meets the following requirements:
Written instrument – A trust does not actually have to be in writing to be recognized as valid in Florida, but the existence of any oral trust would have to be proved by “clear and convincing” evidence. This is a high standard to meet; it is much easier to prove the existence and validity of a written trust.
Competent settlor – The person creating the trust, known in Florida trust law as the settlor, must have the capacity to create a trust. This means generally that the settlor has the mental ability to understand and appreciate that he or she is creating a trust and the consequences of that trust on the assets or property involved.
Intent – It should be clear that the settlor was intending to create a trust.
Proper purpose – A trust can only be created for a legitimate purpose. The purpose of the trust cannot go against the public policy of the state of Florida, and the trust must be for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries.
Definite beneficiaries – The trust must have beneficiaries, and these beneficiaries must be ascertainable either now (such as by naming them in the trust) or in the future (such as by designating a class of beneficiaries, e.g. “my grandchildren”).
Trustee duties – There must be a trustee named in the trust, and the trustee must have some duties to perform.
Different trustee and beneficiary – The same person cannot be both the sole trustee and the sole beneficiary of the trust.
Challenges to the validity of a trust
A person challenging the validity of a trust may allege that any of the requirements for a valid trust described above were not met. Additionally, a trust may be disputed as invalid if it is the product of fraud, duress, coercion, undue influence or mistake. Trust litigation may involve claims that a person was tricked into creating a trust for another person’s benefit, or that the settlor was mistaken about the property in the trust. More often, trust validity litigation involves allegations that a person was unduly influenced by a spouse, adult child, caretaker or other person who had exclusive or special access to the settlor and exerted unreasonable pressure or control to get the settlor to create a trust with terms the settlor otherwise would not have made.
In addition to challenges regarding the validity of a trust, other trust litigation may involve trustee disputes or allegations of a breach of fiduciary duties by a trustee. As a skilled litigator with over 25 years of experience in Florida estates and trust litigation, attorney Mark Manceri is able to provide sound advice and effective representation in the resolution of any trust dispute in the Broward County courts.
Pompano Beach Estates Litigation Specialist for Resolution of Trust Validity Disputes in Broward County
For help in disputes regarding the validity of a trust concerning a Broward County estate, contact Mark R. Manceri, P.A. in Pompano Beach to discuss your case with a skilled and experienced Florida Bar board-certified specialist in wills, trusts and estates.