Florida Trust Reformation and Termination
FLORIDA TRUST REFORMATION
The situation often arises where an otherwise well-drafted, or unambiguous Florida Trust does not achieve what the settlor of the trust intended, or does not meet the legal requirements necessary to accomplish the settlor’s objectives. Whether due to unexpected and unforeseen changes in life, one’s health, the economy, or due to drafting errors and omissions, mistakes of fact and of law, there is relief. The Florida Trust Code provides relief for beneficiaries and fiduciaries involved in a situation requiring reformation of a Florida Trust.
Section 736.0415 of the Florida Trust Code expressly provides that unambiguous provisions of a trust may be reformed, where clear and convincing evidence shows that the language of the trust does not reflect the settlor’s intent, even where the evidence regarding the settlor’s intent is contrary to the trust itself:
Upon application of a settlor or any interested person, the court may reform the terms of a trust, even if unambiguous, to conform the terms to the settlor’s intent if it is proved by clear and convincing evidence that both the accomplishment of the settlor’s intent and the terms of the trust were affected by a mistake of fact or law, whether in expression or inducement. In determining the settlor’s original intent, the court may consider evidence relevant to the settlor’s intent even though the evidence contradicts an apparent plain meaning of the trust instrument.
Notwithstanding the Court’s ability to reform a trust for failing to achieve the settlor’s purpose, as otherwise set forth above, a Court may also modify a trust if its terms are not in the best interests of its beneficiaries.
This relief may be sought prior to and following the death of the settlor so long as the settlor’s intent is proven by clear and convincing evidence. If you have any questions regarding the reformation of a Florida Trust and the evidence necessary to reform a Florida Trust, contact a Florida Trust Litigation attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher P. Taylor, P.A. today. The initial consultation is always free.
FLORIDA TRUST TERMINATION
In addition to a trust terminating naturally pursuant its terms, any trustee or qualified beneficiary may also seek termination of a trust through a trust reformation action.
Trust termination is a form of modification to an otherwise irrevocable trust, which the Court can provide at its discretion, upon application from a trustee or beneficairy. Any termination decision must not be inconsistent with the settlor’s purpose. If the purposes of the trust have been completed, become illegal, impossible to achieve, wasteful, or otherwise the trust no longer achieves the material purpose for which it was intended, then Court may terminate the trust, in whole or in part.
In exercising its discretion to terminate a trust, the court shall, as with reformation, consider the terms and purposes of the trust, the facts and circumstances surrounding the creation of the trust, and extrinsic evidence relevant to the proposed modification or termination.
Florida Statutes 736.0410, 736.0413 and 736.0415 provide the grounds, notice and filing requirements for seeking reformation of a Florida Trust, as well as the factors the Court must consider in order to terminate a Florida Trust.
Please contact a Florida Trust Litigation attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher P. Taylor, P.A. to discuss your potential case for reformation or termination of a Florida Trust. Initial consultations are always provided free of charge.
You can also ask Mr. Taylor your Florida trust reformation questions online anytime.