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Can Assets Be Frozen Immediately In Trust Disputes?

Attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is the Founder and CEO of Bloodworth Law located in Orlando, Florida, and Winter Haven, Florida.

Reed handles trust litigation for Florida defendants and plaintiffs.

Can Assets Be Frozen Immediately In Trust Disputes?

In this post, Reed answers the question: Can assets be frozen immediately in trust disputes?

And the answer is, “yes, they can be.”

Concerned They’re Spending All The Money?

Reed said, “when you are a plaintiff in a probate or a trust dispute, you’re probably concerned that the personal representative or the trustee is spending all the money. You might worry that they don’t care about their fiduciary duties, or that they’ve got access to this, and they’re just going to go nuts with the assets.”

Plaintiffs Can Attempt to Freeze Assets

“As a plaintiff, you have the ability to attempt to freeze the assets.”

Step 1: File a complaint

“The way that is done is you’ve got to file a complaint.”

Step 2: File emergency injunction

“Then you file for an emergency injunction requesting that the court freeze all the assets.”

Satisfy the Elements of an Injunction

“There are Florida statutes on how you do that, how you govern it, and then you have to satisfy the elements of an injunction in this situation.”

Reed explained that in a typical injunction, you’ve got to show that:

#1: Prove likelihood of irreparable harm

“Number one, you’ve got a likelihood of irreparable harm and the unavailability of an adequate remedy at law.”

#2: Show likelihood of success

“And number two, you’ve got to show a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.”

#3: Potential injury or damage to person outweighs harm to trust or estate

“The Number Three is that the potential injury or damage to the person seeking the injunction — the plaintiff — would outweigh any harm to the trust.”

#4: Injunction not contrary to public interest

“And then, the last element, Number four, is that the injunction does not run contrary to the public interest.

“This is how to deal with meeting the four prongs of the injunction and how you would freeze assets in a probate or a trust dispute.

You Need Strong Evidence

“You’ve got to have a really strong situation,” Reed said. “Some very good evidence if you’re going to get an injunction in a probate dispute or a trust dispute. Because the court is granted really broad discretion in granting or denying an injunction.”

“A lot of times, you’re not going to have time to use a forensic accountant,” Reed said. “Typically, if you’re trying to freeze the assets, this is something you want to do fast.”

Bank Statements, Trust Account Statements

“If you already have bank statements or trust account statements that you can give to a forensic accountant, you can have that forensic accountant analyze those.

“And the analysis shows an opinion that yes, the trustee is improperly taking assets out of the trust and using them for his or her own benefit.”

Forensic Accountant = Great Witness

“Then that forensic accountant is a great witness because it is going to require an evidentiary hearing.

“But, a lot of times, you don’t have that luxury because you’re filing the complaint, you’re immediately trying to get the assets frozen, so you need evidence.”

No Time? Public Records, Transactions

“In that situation, one option would be to see if there was a public record of other transactions sold by the trustee for a price below market value,” Reed said.

Attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is Founder and CEO of Bloodworth Law. If you believe a trust is being stolen from and that assets should be frozen to protect what remains, talk with Reed about whether Bloodworth Law can help you, your family, or your business.

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