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Recently I have encountered situations where an individual is named co-trustees of a trust , but really just acts as a rubber stamp and has very little interest or desire to fulfill the obligations. Rather than resigning, the co-trustee may allow another trustee to make all of the decisions of the trust. This is not a wise choice.
A recent commentary the Daily Business Review caught my eye. The author examined the allowability of pet trusts under Florida law. While it is true that Florida law provides for the creation and enforcement of pet trusts, as a practical matter, your disinherited family can institute litigation to attempt to thwart your wishes. I have handled high profile cases involving pet trusts and generally, I am not a fan of pet trusts that are funded with millions of dollars, like in the now-famous Leona Helmsley case. Those trusts invite rightful question by the testator’s heirs and an opportunity for the testator’s caretakers to engage in fraudulent conduct in the years, months and days prior to the testator’s death.
Recently, I handled a very interesting FINRA arbitration dealing with exploitation of the elderly by a joint tenant – in this case, her granddaughter.
What made this case so interesting is that we were able to use the elder abuse statute to support our claim. Traditionally, joint tenants both have the authority to withdraw funds from the account. Because the granddaughter was a joint tenant, we had to overcome the presumption that she was entitled to take money from the account at her discretion.