Flanzer v. Kaplan
Flanzer v. Kaplan, --- So.3d --- (Fla. 2d DCA 2017)
The Court here considered when a party must bring an action to challenge the validity of a trust purportedly procured by undue influence. While the Florida Trust Code prescribes when a challenge to the validity of a trust may be started (when it becomes irrevocable or upon the settlor's death), the Trust Code does not specify a limitations period for challenging the Trust. As a result, we must look to the general rules for limitations contained in Chapter 95.
In this situation, the daughter of the settlors of an irrevocable trust tried to challenge that irrevocable trust as the product of undue influence. The trustees of the trust argued that her challenge was time barred because more than four years had passed since the trust had been created. The daughter argued that the delayed discovery doctrine should apply, because undue influence is considered a "species of fraud." The delayed discovery doctrine provides that where an action is founded on fraud, the statute of limitations does not run until the time the facts giving rise to the cause of action were discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
The Court held that even though undue influence and fraud are separate causes of action, because the delayed discovery doctrine applies to causes of action founded upon fraud, the doctrine should apply to claims of undue influence.