Common Florida Trust Litigation And Estate Litigation Cases Part 2
Attorney Reed Bloodworth and the Bloodworth Law estate litigation and trust litigation teams handle Florida family and individual legal disputes over wills and trusts.
Reed finds that many cases involve a trustee accused of improper acts by beneficiaries, or someone who was or should have been a beneficiary for a trust or an estate, was left out.
But through some bad or improper act of another person, (often times it is a family member), they were removed from a trust or a will, and then, that other person benefitted from it.
Here are a few examples of common Florida estate litigation and trust litigation cases that are seen at Bloodworth Law:
- A beneficiary is suddenly cut out of a will
- Drastic changes are made to a will or a trust
- Siblings — whether biological or adopted — are cut out of wills or trusts by step-parents
Whether you’re a trustee defending your actions, or the beneficiary left out of a family trust your legal dispute has to be reviewed by an experienced Florida estate or trust litigator.
Be prepared to act quickly to meet Florida deadlines for filing disputes after someone passes away.
How Beneficiaries Are Cut Out
There are many ways a beneficiary can be cut out of a trust or an estate. And should this occur, it will very likely involve heated family disputes, sibling rivalries, and financially uncomfortable discussions between relatives.
Case Example No. 1
One type of trust and estate litigation case that Reed sees involves families where the children are questioning a will because a mother or a father remarries. The children are suddenly left out of the will. Maybe the mother dies first and the father gets everything.
Example No. 2
Or, the mother remarries and leaves the stepfather all the money, but leaves nothing to the children who had been included in the estate up until the time that the parent had remarried.
This “mother and father divorced and mother passes, dad re-marries is a typical situation in trust litigation” Reed said.
Dad’s estate plan had always said that his daughter would receive an inheritance. There are multiple, previous inheritance and estate planning documents that state this.
Later in the father’s life he’s sick and has dementia, or, he’s got Alzheimer’s and is on medication, yet he and his current wife, the stepmother to my client (the daughter) have new wills written.
Sweetheart Will Or Trust
The father had used a certain attorney for a number of years. And then, with the new wife, he switches attorneys. Now they have what’s called a “Sweetheart Wills and Trusts” drafted.
It’s called a Sweetheart Will or Trust because when a first spouse dies, all assets remain in the same revocable trust, but, for the surviving spouse’s lifetime. This means that a surviving spouse can have complete control of a Florida trust.
In this case, the father’s estate planning as seen by an average person would read it and say, “OK, this is going to give a sort of life and estate to my wife, and my daughter is going to inherit things.”
This Is Where Estate and Trust Litigation Often Begins
However, there was a provision in the trust that gave the wife the authority to basically take it all by pulling it out of his trust. This is where estate and trust litigation cases often begin: with new spouses, divorces, or marriages.
He, the father passes away. Immediately upon his passing, the wife takes everything out of his trust and puts it into hers. Therefore the daughter literally gets nothing.
What Happened In Case No. 2?
Reed filed a complaint for undue influence, lack of mental capacity, and forced interference with a testamentary expectancy on behalf of the daughter who was previously included as a beneficiary.
It settled at mediation, but Reed went through it and got testimony from financial planners, prior attorneys, and from the current attorney and was able to get testimony.
There were files and documents that showed basically if you drew an overview of the estate plan it basically had an arrow that always went to the daughter.
Reed was able to show that it was the father’s intent that the daughter would always receive an inheritance from his estate.
There was also medical testimony that yes, he suffered from dementia and things of that nature. So it was a pretty contentious litigation but it finally went to mediation and they settled and paid the value of the estate which was close to seven figures.
About Bloodworth Law
Reed is the Founder and CEO of Bloodworth Law. Reed is a 2022 U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyer for his work in Trusts and Estates Litigation.
Reed built a legal team with attorneys committed to working in the client’s best interests. Talk with Bloodworth Law’s attorneys who can meet with you in a convenient downtown Orlando Florida office location or a downtown Winter Haven office.
Talk to Reed about your case and find out what Bloodworth Law can do to help you, your family, or your business.Consider sharing this post