Contested Trusts & Litigation Lawyer

In the realm of estate planning, trusts are key in safeguarding assets and streamlining the inheritance process. But what if there’s a dispute or a perceived inaccuracy?


If you’re in Florida and find yourself facing issues related to a trust, consult with a trust dispute and litigation attorney as soon as you can. Waiting or failing to call a lawyer can lead to the exact outcome you’re trying to avoid.


Luckily, you’re in the right place to start your case. Reach out to Florida contested trusts and litigation lawyer William C. Roof for guidance. And keep reading to gain a deeper understanding of contested trusts and litigation in the Sunshine State.

Grounds for Contesting a Trust

Trusts, while established with the best intentions, can sometimes become a focal point of disputes. In Florida, various legal grounds may warrant the contesting of a trust:

Defective Trust Document

A trust must adhere to specific legal formalities, including signatures from two witnesses and the settlor (the person creating the trust). If a trust is believed to be improperly executed, it may be deemed defective. And that’s grounds to contest it.

Undue Influence

If there’s an assertion that the settlor was unduly coerced or influenced during its creation, this forms a valid ground for contestation of a trust in Florida.

Lack of Capacity

Trusts can be contested if there’s credible evidence suggesting that the settlor lacked the mental capacity to understand the trust’s terms, beneficiaries, or the nature of the property involved.

Procedure for Contesting a Trust

  1. Determine your standing. Before initiating a trust contest, make sure you’re a qualified beneficiary with a legitimate claim.

  3. Grounds for contestation. Clearly identify the legal grounds on which you’re challenging the trust.

  5. Legal consultation. Speak with an attorney who is well-versed in Florida trust laws, such as William C. Roof, to guide you through the nuances.

  1. File a lawsuit. If discussions fail, your attorney may help you file a lawsuit to contest the trust.

  3. Court proceedings. Once filed, both parties will present their case, after which the court will issue a decision.

Risks Associated with a Trust Contest

Trust contests, while an essential recourse in certain situations, pose some challenges. Make sure you understand the potential risks before you proceed with any form of trust or estate litigation.

Legal Expenses

A trust contest often involves considerable legal expenses. From attorney fees to court costs, the financial burdens can add up.


While many cases can result in a favorable outcome that justifies the expenses, there’s no guarantee of a particular verdict. If it doesn’t go your way, you could be left with significant costs and potentially no tangible benefits.

Strained Family Relationships

Trust disputes often involve family members or other loved ones, which can exacerbate emotional tensions and strain relationships.


Differences in opinion about the validity or interpretation of a trust can create rifts between siblings, parents, and other relatives. And that can lead to long-term estrangement or bitterness, with emotional consequences that last well beyond the resolution of the legal issue.

Possibility of Disinheritance

In some wills or trusts, there may be a “no-contest clause.” This provision states that, if a beneficiary contests the trust and loses, they may forfeit their inheritance or receive a significantly reduced amount.


While these clauses aren’t always enforceable, they do represent a genuine risk. Beneficiaries need to weigh the potential benefits of contesting the trust against the risk of losing their inheritance entirely.

Time-Consuming Process

Contesting a trust is not always a fast process — in fact, it’s sometimes quite slow. Legal proceedings can stretch over months or even years, requiring a significant time investment from all parties involved. This prolonged period can be mentally and emotionally draining, especially when waiting for a resolution that might significantly impact one’s financial future.

Public Scrutiny

Trust disputes that escalate to court become part of the public record. This means that the details of the trust, as well as the disagreements and personal dynamics involved, can become accessible to anyone.


If you value your privacy, you may not want that kind of public exposure. Of course, a knowledgeable attorney can help you navigate these risks. To speak about any of these risks or your concerns, reach out to Florida contested trust attorney William C. Roof today.

Alternatives to Contesting a Trust in Court

While litigation is an option, it’s not always the solution. Several alternatives can resolve trust disputes with no need for court:

Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements

A nonjudicial settlement agreement provides an avenue for interested parties to collaboratively reach a resolution outside of court. These agreements are legally binding and can cover a wide array of trust-related matters, from clarifying terms to handling beneficiary disputes.


Here are some of the benefits of these agreements:


  • Control. All parties have a say in the outcome, leading to solutions that may be more agreeable to everyone involved.
  • Efficiency. Settling outside of court can be faster than waiting for a court date and going through a prolonged litigation process.
  • Cost savings. By avoiding court, parties can save on legal fees, court costs, and other associated expenses.
  • Privacy. Resolutions reached outside of court remain confidential, avoiding the public exposure that comes with court records.

Trust Modification and Termination

Sometimes, the root of a trust dispute lies in ambiguous or outdated trust terms. That means it might be possible to modify or even terminate the trust to better align with the settlor’s original intentions or current circumstances.


The advantages of this approach include the following:


  • Clarity. Modifying ambiguous or problematic terms can eliminate the root cause of many disputes.
  • Flexibility. As circumstances change, trusts can be updated to better serve the needs and intentions of the settlor and beneficiaries.
  • Consensus. Modifications or terminations often require the agreement of beneficiaries, promoting collaborative decision-making.

Trust Reformation

Trust reformation involves making changes to a trust to align it with the settlor’s original intentions when there’s evidence that mistakes (either in terms of law or fact) affected the trust’s creation.


If your case involves any of these factors, you may want to consider this approach:


  • Clear evidence. There’s undeniable proof that the trust’s terms don’t reflect the settlor’s intent due to an error.
  • Mistakes of law or fact. Whether the mistake was a factual oversight or a misunderstanding of the law, reformation can correct it.
  • Beneficiary well-being. Reformation ensures that beneficiaries receive what the settlor truly intended for them, preserving the trust’s original purpose.

Contested Trusts and Litigation FAQs

Whether you’re a beneficiary, trustee, or simply seeking clarity, the answers to the FAQs below give you a starting point for understanding trust disputes in Florida.

What Is a Trust Contest?

A trust contest is a formal objection raised against the enforceability of a trust or specific provisions within it. This legal challenge, typically initiated by a beneficiary or an interested party, stems from concerns about the trust’s formation, management, or execution.


You need to understand that a trust contest is not a trivial matter. It’s a rigorous legal process that seeks to ensure the trust’s terms and execution align with legal standards and the true intentions of the settlor.

How Do I Contest a Trust in Florida?

Contesting a trust in Florida is a structured legal process that requires careful adherence to state laws and procedures. Of course, you need a valid reason for the contestation, understanding the steps involved is equally crucial.


Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to contest a trust in the Sunshine State:


    • Determine your eligibility. Before initiating any legal action, confirm your standing. In Florida, typically, only qualified beneficiaries or those with a direct interest in the trust can initiate a contest.

    • Identify the grounds. Not all disagreements or dissatisfaction with a trust warrant a legal contest. Valid grounds in Florida include undue influence, lack of capacity of the settlor, mistakes in the trust’s execution, or suspicions of fraud.

    • Consult an attorney. Given the complexities of trust laws in Florida, it’s a good idea to speak with a trust litigation attorney, such as William C. Roof. Your trust litigation attorney can provide guidance, evaluate the merits of your case, and advise on the best course of action.

    • Issue a notice. Before formal legal proceedings begin, it’s customary (and sometimes mandatory) to notify all interested parties about the intent to contest. This notice can give parties a chance to address concerns or even resolve disputes outside of court.

    • File the necessary documents. If an amicable resolution isn’t reached, the next step is to file a formal legal challenge in a Florida court. This involves submitting specific documents detailing the grounds for contestation and any supporting evidence.

    • Engage in legal proceedings. Once filed, the case may involve various stages, from discovery (where both sides gather evidence) to potential settlement discussions, and possibly a trial if no agreement is reached.

    • Court decision. After reviewing all presented evidence and arguments, the court will render a decision. This might involve upholding the trust, invalidating specific provisions, or declaring the entire trust void.

    • Potential appeals. If any party disagrees with the court’s decision, they might have the option to appeal to a higher court.

How Long Do I Have to Contest a Trust?

Depending on the details of your case, you’ll generally have between six months and four years to contest a trust in Florida.


Here are some of the factors that can affect the timeline to contest a trust:


    • Starting point. The clock generally starts ticking from the date when the trust becomes irrevocable or when a beneficiary receives a notice or has knowledge of the trust’s existence. In some cases, the time frame might begin upon the death of the settlor if the trust is of a testamentary nature.

    • Nature of the dispute. The type of challenge can also influence the time frame. For instance, a contest based on alleged fraud might have a different window than one based on the settlor’s mental capacity.

    • Exceptions and extensions. In certain situations, the statutory period might be extended. This could happen if a beneficiary is a minor or if there’s evidence of concealment or misrepresentation by the trustee or other parties.

What If My Trustee Did Not Act In My Best Interests?

A trustee holds a critical role in the management and execution of a trust, acting as a custodian of the trust’s assets and ensuring that the settlor’s intentions are honored. They owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, which means they have to act with utmost care, loyalty, and good faith. But what happens when a trustee fails in this duty?


In Florida, beneficiaries who believe that a trustee has not acted in their best interests can pursue several legal remedies:


    • Damages. Beneficiaries can seek compensation for any losses incurred due to the trustee’s actions or negligence.

    • Removal of the trustee. In severe cases, where the trustee’s actions are particularly egregious or harmful, beneficiaries can petition the court to remove the trustee and appoint a new one.

    • Accounting. Beneficiaries have the right to demand a detailed accounting of the trust’s assets, income, and expenditures..

    • Injunctions. In situations where immediate harm might occur due to the trustee’s actions, beneficiaries can seek an injunction to prevent specific actions by the trustee.

Beneficiaries need to act fast if they suspect a trustee is not acting in their best interests. Delays can complicate the legal process and potentially exacerbate any harm or losses.


If you believe there’s been a breach of trust or breach of fiduciary duty, reach out to a contested trusts and litigation attorney as soon as possible.

Contact a Contested Trusts & Litigation Lawyer Today

If you’re facing trust-related disputes in Florida, this is the time to take action. And as you take action, understanding the intricacies of Florida law and having a trust dispute and litigation attorney by your side can make a world of difference.


Reach out to Florida contested trusts and litigation lawyer William C. Roof today for expert guidance and representation. We’re here to make sure you’re treated fairly and that you get what you’re owed.



The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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