Judicial Proceedings Under Florida’s Trust Code
736.0201 Role of court in trust proceedings.
736.0202 Jurisdiction over trustee and beneficiary.
736.0203 Subject matter jurisdiction.
736.0205 Trust proceedings; dismissal of matters relating to foreign trusts.
736.0206 Proceedings for review of employment of agents and review of compensation of trustee and employees of trust.
736.0207 Trust contests.
736.0201 Role of court in trust proceedings.—
(1) Except as provided in subsections (5) and (6) and s. 736.0206, judicial proceedings concerning trusts shall be commenced by filing a complaint and shall be governed by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.
(2) The court may intervene in the administration of a trust to the extent the court’s jurisdiction is invoked by an interested person or as provided by law.
(3) A trust is not subject to continuing judicial supervision unless ordered by the court.
(4) A judicial proceeding involving a trust may relate to the validity, administration, or distribution of a trust, including proceedings to:
(a) Determine the validity of all or part of a trust;
(b) Appoint or remove a trustee;
(c) Review trustees’ fees;
(d) Review and settle interim or final accounts;
(e) Ascertain beneficiaries; determine any question arising in the administration or distribution of any trust, including questions of construction of trust instruments; instruct trustees; and determine the existence or nonexistence of any immunity, power, privilege, duty, or right;
(f) Obtain a declaration of rights; or
(g) Determine any other matters involving trustees and beneficiaries.
(5) A proceeding for the construction of a testamentary trust may be filed in the probate proceeding for the testator’s estate. The proceeding shall be governed by the Florida Probate Rules.
(6) Rule 1.525, Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, shall apply to judicial proceedings concerning trusts, except that the following do not constitute taxation of costs or attorney’s fees even if the payment is for services rendered or costs incurred in a judicial proceeding:
(a) A trustee’s payment of compensation or reimbursement of costs to persons employed by the trustee from assets of the trust.
(b) A determination by the court directing from what part of the trust fees or costs shall be paid, unless the determination is made under s. 736.1004 in an action for breach of fiduciary duty or challenging the exercise of, or failure to exercise, a trustee’s powers.
736.0202 Jurisdiction over trustee and beneficiary.—
(1) By accepting the trusteeship of a trust having its principal place of administration in this state or by moving the principal place of administration to this state, the trustee submits personally to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state regarding any matter involving the trust.
(2) With respect to their interests in the trust, the beneficiaries of a trust having its principal place of administration in this state are subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state regarding any matter involving the trust. By accepting a distribution from such a trust, the recipient submits personally to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state regarding any matter involving the distribution.
(3) This section does not preclude other methods of obtaining jurisdiction over a trustee, beneficiary, or other person receiving property from the trust.
736.0203 Subject matter jurisdiction.—The circuit court has original jurisdiction in this state of all proceedings arising under this code.
736.0204 Venue.—Venue for actions and proceedings concerning trusts, including those under s. 736.0201, may be laid in:
(1) Any county where the venue is proper under chapter 47;
(2) Any county where the beneficiary suing or being sued resides or has its principal place of business; or
(3) The county where the trust has its principal place of administration.
736.0205 Trust proceedings; dismissal of matters relating to foreign trusts.—Over the objection of a party, the court shall not entertain proceedings under s. 736.0201 for a trust registered, or having its principal place of administration, in another state unless all interested parties could not be bound by litigation in the courts of the state where the trust is registered or has its principal place of administration. The court may condition a stay or dismissal of a proceeding under this section on the consent of any party to jurisdiction of the state where the trust is registered or has its principal place of business, or the court may grant a continuance or enter any other appropriate order.
736.0206 Proceedings for review of employment of agents and review of compensation of trustee and employees of trust.—
(1) The court may review the propriety of the employment by a trustee of any person, including any attorney, auditor, investment adviser, or other specialized agent or assistant, and the reasonableness of any compensation paid to that person or to the trustee.
(2) If the settlor’s estate is being probated, and the settlor’s trust or the trustee of the settlor’s trust is a beneficiary under the settlor’s will, the trustee, any person employed by the trustee, or any interested person may have the propriety of employment and the reasonableness of the compensation of the trustee or any person employed by the trustee determined in the probate proceeding.
(3) The burden of proof of the propriety of the employment and the reasonableness of the compensation shall be on the trustee and the person employed by the trustee. Any person who is determined to have received excessive compensation from a trust for services rendered may be ordered to make appropriate refunds.
(4) Court proceedings to determine reasonable compensation of a trustee or any person employed by a trustee, if required, are a part of the trust administration process. The costs, including attorney’s fees, of the person assuming the burden of proof of propriety of the employment and reasonableness of the compensation shall be determined by the court and paid from the assets of the trust unless the court finds the compensation paid or requested to be substantially unreasonable. The court shall direct from which part of the trust assets the compensation shall be paid.
(5) The court may determine reasonable compensation for a trustee or any person employed by a trustee without receiving expert testimony. Any party may offer expert testimony after notice to interested persons. If expert testimony is offered, a reasonable expert witness fee may be awarded by the court and paid from the assets of the trust unless the court finds that the expert testimony did not assist the court. The court shall direct from which part of the trust assets the fee shall be paid.
(6) In a proceeding pursuant to subsection (2), the petitioner may serve formal notice as provided in the Florida Probate Rules, and such notice shall be sufficient for the court to acquire jurisdiction over the person receiving the notice to the extent of the person’s interest in the trust.
736.0207 Trust contests.—An action to contest the validity of all or part of a revocable trust, or the revocation of part of a revocable trust, may not be commenced until the trust becomes irrevocable by its terms or by the settlor’s death. If all of a revocable trust has been revoked, an action to contest the revocation may not be commenced until after the settlor’s death. This section does not prohibit such action by the guardian of the property of an incapacitated settlor.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose
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