What is the Statute Of Limitations for a Trust Contest in Florida?Posted July 4, 2017 in Florida Trust Litigation
Florida Probate and Trust Litigation Blog
What is the Statute Of Limitations for a Trust Contest in Florida?
Ask any Florida lawyer about the statute of limitations on a civil claim and they will immediately rattle off the applicable statute--Section 95.11. But, there is a different statute that applies to those in Florida seeking to challenge the validity of a Trust.
Trust Contest Statute of Limitations Statute
Florida Statute Section 736.0604 governs the time limitations for bringing a claim relating to a Trust contest and provides as follows:
736.0604 Limitation on action contesting validity of revocable trust.—An action to contest the validity of a trust that was revocable at the settlor’s death is barred, if not commenced within the earlier of:(1) The time as provided in chapter 95; or(2) Six months after the trustee sent the person a copy of the trust instrument and a notice informing the person of the trust’s existence, of the trustee’s name and address, and of the time allowed for commencing a proceeding.History.—s. 6, ch. 2006-217.
Interestingly, since its enactment, no Florida appellate court has interpreted this statute. It is important to know that the statute applies to the earlier of those two categories. Section 1 doesn't provide a specific time limit. Instead, it incorporates all of Florida Statutes Chapter 95. While Section 95.11 incorporates many different claims, the majority of claims based upon intentional actions or torts are governed by a four year statute of limitations. See Section 95.11(3)(a).
The second category can potentially be the most dangerous. If a trustee sends proper notice of the trust's existence (in accordance with Fla. Stat. 736.0813) along with a copy of the trust instrument, the statute of limitations may be substantially decreased to only six months.
The Statute of Limitations for a Breach of Trust
There is a difference between challenging the validity of a trust (such as for undue influence or lack of mental capacity) and bringing a lawsuit for breach of trust. The statute of limitations are different for these causes of action, too.
When bringing a lawsuit against a Trustee in Florida, the limitations are governed by Section 736.1008:
(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), all claims by a beneficiary against a trustee for breach of trust are barred as provided in chapter 95 as to:(a) All matters adequately disclosed in a trust disclosure document issued by the trustee, with the limitations period beginning on the date of receipt of adequate disclosure.(b) All matters not adequately disclosed in a trust disclosure document if the trustee has issued a final trust accounting and has given written notice to the beneficiary of the availability of the trust records for examination and that any claims with respect to matters not adequately disclosed may be barred unless an action is commenced within the applicable limitations period provided in chapter 95. The limitations period begins on the date of receipt of the final trust accounting and notice.(2) Unless sooner barred by adjudication, consent, or limitations, a beneficiary is barred from bringing an action against a trustee for breach of trust with respect to a matter that was adequately disclosed in a trust disclosure document unless a proceeding to assert the claim is commenced within 6 months after receipt from the trustee of the trust disclosure document or a limitation notice that applies to that disclosure document, whichever is received later.(3) When a trustee has not issued a final trust accounting or has not given written notice to the beneficiary of the availability of the trust records for examination and that claims with respect to matters not adequately disclosed may be barred, a claim against the trustee for breach of trust based on a matter not adequately disclosed in a trust disclosure document is barred as provided in chapter 95 and accrues when the beneficiary has actual knowledge of:(a) The facts upon which the claim is based if such actual knowledge is established by clear and convincing evidence; or(b) The trustee’s repudiation of the trust or adverse possession of trust assets.
Under this statute, the time limitation varies from six months to four years. But, courts have interpreted the importantance of when the time period begins to run. The statute does not begin to run until after the beneficiary has received notice. See Taplin v. Taplin, 88 So. 3d 344 - Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2012 (discussing the applicable statute of limitations in depth).
PersanteZuroweste is a Florida law firm that handles varieties of Florida Trust Litigation including causes of action relating to Florida's Trust Code. If you believe that you may need legal assistance regarding a Florida litigation matter, please contact us at (727) 796-7666.
PersanteZuroweste has established a reputation as prominent trial lawyers serving clients throughout Florida. Our office is conveniently located to the Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa Bay communities.