Showing posts from 2020

Demircan v. Mikhaylov

Demircan v. Mikhaylov , --- So. 3d -- (Fla. 3d DCA 2020) This Third DCA case addresses several elements of Florida trust law, with a focus on the ability to modify an irrevocable trust under the Florida common law. It involved an irrevocable trust established by the settlor for the benefit of his children, which initially appointed an independent trustee and a third party with trustee removal powers. When disagreements arose between the settlor and the beneficiaries against the trustee and the third party, litigation ensued. Prior to the final hearing, the third party had appointed a new trustee to succeed the independent trustee. At the final hearing, the trial court allowed a modification of the trust noting the consent of the settlor and all beneficiaries of the trust. The Court first considered whether the new trustee had standing to appeal the modification of the trust.  It found that the new trustee had a sufficient stake in the controversy to seek judicial resolution of

Lopez v. Hernandez

  Lopez v. Hernandez , 291 So.3d 1007      This decision deals with the ability of the probate court to impose personal liability for attorney’s fees and costs. Here, the court entered an order addressing fees and costs sought by the attorney for one of two feuding brothers. The attorney represented one of the brothers as personal representative of their father’s estate. The probate court found that the brother had engaged in frivolous litigation on the estate’s behalf, awarded his attorney fees and costs, divided responsibility for those fees between the estate and the brother, personally, and imposed a charging lien on the brother’s portion of the estate.         The Court considered whether the probate court erred in charging the attorney’s fees against the brother’s portion of the estate and imposing the charging lien. It held that while F.S. 733.106(4) allows probate courts to direct the payment of attorney’s fees out of a beneficiary’s portion of an estate, it does not allow th

Lefkowitz v. Schwartz

Lefkowitz v. Schwartz , --- So.3d --- (Fla. 5th DCA 2020) This case revisits the applicability of the "trust exception" to creditors claims in a probate proceeding. Here, the creditor's claim was based upon money lent by the creditor to the decedent, which the decedent promised to repay upon the sale of certain real property. The real property was apparently sold prior to the decedent's death but the money was not repaid. Upon the decedent's death, the creditor filed a creditor's claim and in her independent action, she asked the trial court to find that the sale proceeds were held in a constructive trust for her benefit. On appeal, the Court reversed, holding that the "trust exception" did not apply, and that the creditor's claim was an ordinary creditor's claim and the proceeds of the sale were assets of the estate subject to Florida statutes governing the priority of claims. The "trust exception" was based on the idea tha

Barrett v. Kapoor

Barrett v. Kapoor , 278 So.3d 876 (Fla 3d DCA 2019) In this decision, the Court addressed the tension between the vesting of bequests and the settlor's intent. Here, the grantor's trust provided that upon his death, one of his daughters would have one year within which to purchase a piece of property, and upon the sale of the property, provided for the sale proceeds to be distributed to his other two children. It also stated that if one of the children died before receiving his or her share in full, the balance of their share should be distributed per stirpes to that child's then living descendants, or if none, to the grantor's living children. As these things go, one of the children entitled to receive half of the sale proceeds died after  the grantor, but before  receiving her share of the trust. She had no children. The deceased daughter's estate argued that her right to the proceeds vested at the grantor's death and should therefore pass to her esta