Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog

Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog

By Juan C. Antúnez of Stokes McMillan Antúnez P.A.

Category Archives: Trustees In Hot Water

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Trust protectors; they’re like trustees, but not quite. So can they get sued?

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News, Trustees In Hot Water, Will and Trust Contests
It used to be so simple. Back in the day trust lawyers had to contend with only three possible players: the settlor, the trustee, or the beneficiary. Today that trio’s often joined by a new creature we’re still not exactly sure what to make of: a trust protector. Over the last few years there’s been… Continue Reading

Changing trustees can be contentious, but there are ways for beneficiaries to ease the process.

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News, Trustees In Hot Water
As a family trust moves into its second or third generation, it’s almost inevitable that someone’s going to be unhappy with the trustee. The good news is that most well-drafted trust agreements include a mechanism for replacing trustees as and when needed. Now the bad news: in the absence of good drafting trust beneficiaries may have to… Continue Reading

What litigators can learn from the OCC’s “Comptroller’s Handbook for Fiduciary Activities”

Posted in Trust and Estates Litigation In the News, Trustees In Hot Water, Will and Trust Contests
The fiduciary duty of care sets the minimum level of diligence and competence we expect of trustees, objectively measured by reference to what a “reasonable” or “prudent” person would do in like circumstances, and informed by industry norms and practices. As I previously wrote here in the context of trustee investment decisions, the duty of… Continue Reading

2d DCA: Are trustees entitled to due process prior to being removed?

Posted in Practice & Procedure, Trustees In Hot Water, Will and Trust Contests
Kountze v. Kountze, — So.3d —-, 2012 WL 3111681 (Fla. 2d DCA August 01, 2012) It says it right in the trust code: trust litigation must be conducted like any other form of civil litigation. F.S. § 736.0201(1). The problem is that many of these cases are litigated before probate judges, who on a day-to-day basis adjudicate… Continue Reading

McGuireWoods: Recent Cases of Interest to Fiduciaries

Posted in Trustees In Hot Water
The fiduciary litigation group at McGuireWoods LLP in Richmond, Virginia recently published its latest national survey of trust-related cases [click here]. Every one of these cases is a cautionary tale that — hopefully — will keep you and/or your client out of court in the first place (which is always the best kind of lawyering). Anyway, good stuff, well worth reading.… Continue Reading

US SCT: Supreme Court rules that general stock picking advice is subject to 2 percent-of-AGI floor but specialized fiduciary advice is fully deductible

Posted in Trustees In Hot Water
Knight v. C.I.R. , — S.Ct. —-, 2008 WL 140749 (U.S. Jan 16, 2008) In an opinion that will have significant implications for every estate or trust paying U.S. income taxes, the Supreme Court has just ruled on the level of deductibility Internal Revenue Code Section 67(e)(1) permits for trust investment advisory fees (IAFs). The… Continue Reading

Bank’s Opening of Safe-Deposit Box Leads to Trial on Missing Cash Claim

Posted in Trustees In Hot Water
Opening safe-deposit boxes is a part of most probate administrations.  Banks are usually sticklers for protocol, which is understandable given their liability exposure if anything goes wrong.  Fortunately, Florida has a detailed statutory scheme governing access by fiduciaries to safety deposit boxes (see F.S. 655.93 – F.S. 655.94 and F.S. 733.6065). Wachovia is learning the… Continue Reading

$111,000+ OOPS! for Wachovia Bank

Posted in Trustees In Hot Water
Wachovia Bank, N.A. v. U.S., — F.3d —-, 2006 WL 1912805 (11th Cir.(Fla.) Jul 13, 2006) For trust and estates lawyers this case is a good example of how NOT keeping track of minor details — like a client paying federal income tax on a tax-exempt charitable trust for 10 years — can lead to lively appellate opinions (interesting for… Continue Reading

Corporate Trustee under Fire: Failure to Diversify J.M. Smucker Company Stock Holdings

Posted in Trustees In Hot Water
This recent failure-to-diversify case out of Ohio underscores the trustee-liability issues I wrote about here regarding the recent appellate-court reversal of a $24 million judgment against Chase Manhattan in New York. In both cases the bank’s liability (or lack thereof) for losses arising from the decision to hold family stock in trust for decades (versus… Continue Reading

$1.1 Million Judgment Against Wachovia Bank of Georgia for Exposing Assets of NRA to U.S. Estate Tax Upheld on Appeal

Posted in Trustees In Hot Water
Iraqi Heir Loses Half of Estate, Blames Bank After years of litigation, plus an appeal to Georgia’s Supreme Court (see Namik v. Wachovia Bank of Ga., 612 S.E.2d 270 (Ga. S. Ct. 2005), the Court of Appeals in Georgia recently upheld a $1.1 million judgment against Wachovia Bank of Georgia for failing to avoid estate… Continue Reading