I’m attorney L. Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. Our Orlando office is located at 801 N. Magnolia Avenue, Suite 216. Our Winter Haven office is located at 332 Ave. B SW.
In previous videos, I talked about assets stolen during probate or from a trust. Today I’m going to explain what conversion is in regard to probate and trust disputes and what a conversion lawsuit is.
What is a Conversion Lawsuit?
In plain English, conversion is the wrongful possession and power over another person’s property, assets, or money. It is an intentional exercise of control of property or assets that interferes with the right of another person to control it.
In terms of a lawsuit, conversion is a cause of action, often combined with others, such as breach of fiduciary duty, or civil theft during a will or trust dispute.
Conversion lawsuits may also include accusations of civil theft or fraud if it is determined that the trustee or personal representative actually took assets illegally. The accused may have to pay the other the full value of the property or assets in a lawsuit.
In a conversion claim, a plaintiff has the burden of proof to establish:
- that it owned a specific and identifiable piece of property, asset or money;
- that the defendant intentionally and without authorization interfered with plaintiff’s ownership of the property, asset or money;
- that interference deprived the plaintiff of that property, asset or money; and
- the interference caused the plaintiff to suffer damages.
Avoid Probate Disputes
A conversion claim differs from a claim of civil theft. Conversion is a common law claim, meaning it originated in old English law and evolved over time. Civil theft is a statutory claim, meaning it is defined in Florida statutes. A civil theft claim may entitle the plaintiff to an award of triple damages, plus, attorney’s fees, and court costs.
Probate litigation and trust litigation occasionally involve conversion and civil theft allegations. The conduct of the person in possession of the money or assets, as well as the probate or trust lawyers’ experience, will help determine whether the lawsuit to be filed is conversion or civil theft, or both.
In Florida, when a person dies owning property, assets, heirlooms, and money, no matter how much, or what it is, families and relatives may battle about what is estate property and what is not. Sibling rivalry and jealousy can escalate tempers which often leads to probate disputes.
It can be difficult to pursue legal actions but if a family member or a friend is taking advantage of you or someone you know, you may consider taking legal action.
Again, I’m Reed Bloodworth, the managing partner of Bloodworth Law. If you have questions about probate litigation or trust litigation, give me a call. Let’s talk about how Bloodworth Law can help you and your family.