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For over 30 years, attorneys at Dean, Mead, Minton & Zwemer have assisted clients with probate and trust litigation matters in Port St. Lucie and surrounding communities. We represent plaintiffs, defendants, and non-parties in all types of disputes involving wills, guardianships, trust and estates.
We frequently handle matters involving will contests, trust contests, trust reformation, accounting actions, fiduciary (Personal Representative or Trustee) misconduct and removal, surcharge claims, and probate and trusts appeals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. How Can I Obtain Information About Assets in the Trust or Estate When the Fiduciary is Not Forthcoming?
The fiduciary, either the Personal Representative or Trustee, of an estate or trust has specific duties under Fla. Stat. § 736.0813 to keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration. The Trustee is responsible for providing qualified beneficiaries with a complete copy of the trust instrument upon reasonable request. When a fiduciary is not forthcoming with information about estate or trust assets, that fiduciary can be fined or removed. Our probate and trust litigation attorneys have the experience needed to assist with removing a fiduciary.
2. How Can I Gain Access to Will or Trust Documents?
Generally, you do not have a right to view the will of someone who is alive. Once a person dies, you may obtain a copy of the will deposited with the probate court by requesting a copy from the court clerk. If you are a qualified beneficiary of a trust, you may request a copy of the trust from the trustee.
3. Can a Disinherited Child Contest a Will or Trust?
If a disinherited child thinks he or she was deprived of inheritance unfairly, the child can contest a will or trust. The window of opportunity to begin such proceedings in Florida can be very short – typically 90 days after the Personal Representative provides Notice of Administration or, in some cases, 20 days after being served with a Petition for Administration.
4. The Beneficiaries are Arguing Over My Actions as Trustee. How Do I Carry Out the Grantor’s Intent in the Best Interest of All Parties?
One of a Trustee’s primary obligations to beneficiaries is to keep them informed of the status of the administration of the trust. Having a thorough understanding of the trust instrument is very important. As the Trustee, you are obligated to carry out your duties as set forth in the trust agreement and Florida law. Trustees are encouraged to hire an experienced, trust administration attorney who will provide sound legal advice. It helps beneficiaries to build confidence in you, thereby reducing the likelihood of being considered unfair.
5. How Can I Obtain Information About an Inheritance?
The first step to find out what, if any, inheritance you are entitled to after a loved one has died is to check with the probate court in the county of the decedent’s residence to see if the probate process has begun. If it has, you can ask to obtain a copy of the will from the clerk of court, or contact the executor or administrator of your loved one’s will or estate.
6. When Can I Sue for Mismanagement of a Trust? What Options Do I Have if the Trustee Doesn’t Follow His or Her Fiduciary Duties?
Trustees owe beneficiaries of a trust the commitment to do the following:
1) Be loyal;
2) Manage trust assets; and
3) Remain impartial.
Trustees are required to provide a trust accounting in compliance with the Florida Trust Code. When a Trustee does not follow the directives of the trust, he or she can be sued. It is important to know the time period for filing suits under the statute of limitations. Our experienced trust litigation attorneys can assist you if a fiduciary has breached a trust.