Trust Administration & Litigation Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale
Lawyers Knowledgeable in Probate Matters
A revocable living trust allows an individual to manage assets during their lifetime, avoid probate, and save certain taxes. The person who creates the trust is called a grantor or settlor. Whoever manages the trust assets—this person may be the same individual as the grantor, at least at first—is the trustee. Generally, the trustee of a trust is faced with numerous issues, including payment of taxes and debts and succession of interests. The process of resolving these issues is known as trust administration. The lawyers at Stok Kon + Braverman can help you understand your rights and obligations with regard to a trust and advocate for you in any disputes that may arise. Consulting an attorney may be an important step to take in protecting your interests.
One of the benefits of a revocable living trust is avoiding the expense of probate. However, just like probate, trusts must be administered. The trustee is responsible for collecting and administering assets within a trust, as well as handling transfers, successions, collections, distributions, and real estate conveyances. Trustees must also prepare and present trust accountings. Retaining an attorney ensures that collections, distributions, accounting, and debt repayment are correctly handled.
Sometimes disputes arise in connection with a trust, just as they arise in connection with wills and probate. Heirs and beneficiaries may bring a trust contest to challenge the document creating the trust. A lawyer can help you advocate either for or against a trust document.
Possible reasons to contest a trust include undue influence, lack of capacity to create a trust, duress, and fraud. An express trust in Florida needs to be executed in conformity with the requirements of Florida Statute §737.111. If the statutory requirements are not met, the trust may not be recognized. Similarly, trusts must be made freely and without coercion. A trust may be challenged for undue influence. The person making a trust must have had the mental capacity to understand the amount and nature of the assets in the trust, the family members who would ordinarily receive those assets, and how the trust disposes of them.
Sometimes, mistakes of fact or law are made when a trust instrument is created. Trust disputes after the death of a settlor may be resolved by modifying or reforming the terms of the trust in a manner consistent with the trust purposes or in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
In some cases, trust language is confusing or ambiguous. When this happens, an attorney can help you bring a trust construction lawsuit before the court. The remedy may be revision or reformation after the death of the grantor.
A trustee owes fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries of a trust. In addition to advising trustees on the proper administration of a trust, we can advise beneficiaries on their rights and whether it may be appropriate to bring a breach of fiduciary duty action against the trustee. The remedy varies depending on the circumstances, but it may include the removal of the fiduciary or a surcharge action to restore any losses suffered. We can also help beneficiaries compel an accounting of trust assets or help a trustee defend an accounting of those assets.
Trusts may be useful for people disposing of their property, but it is important that the resulting trust is properly administered and that any disputes are carefully resolved. Whether you are a trustee trying to make sure that you fulfill your duties, or a beneficiary concerned about your rights, the attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman can provide experienced counsel. We serve people throughout Broward County.
Call us at (954) 874-8870 or complete our online form to arrange an appointment if you need guidance on an issue affecting a trust, assistance from an attorney, or representation in any other probate matter.