Challenging the Validity of a Trust, Florida Trust Disputes

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Beneficiaries or outsiders of the trust (those unhappily left out of the trust) may file suit challenging the legal validity of a Trust.  Validity is commonly challenged, claiming a mistake in execution, undue influence, and lack of capacity. Under Florida law:

  • mistake in execution is a claim that the trust is invalid, and thus may not be recognized under Florida law.
  • In an undue influence claim the petitioner challenges whether the person making the Trust did so freely and without undue coercion by a person who was in a position of confidence and control.
  • A lack of capacity claim is asserted when a petitioner believes that at the time the trust was created, the person creating the trust did not have the mental capacity required by the law to understand the amount and nature of his property, the family members and loved ones who would benefit from the trust, and how the trust disposes of its property.

The standard for “testamentary capacity” is not as high as general competency. A person need only understand the nature and extent of his assets and the natural objects of his bounty (his family). Lack of capacity can be the result of the natural aging process or the result of a person being on a substantial amount of medication (e.g. heavy morphine to treat end-stage cancer). Lack of capacity litigation relies on medical records and the irrational conduct of the testator prior to executing the Trust.

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