If an individual exercises undue influence in regard to the creation of a trust, the trust can be voided. Interestingly, if an individual exercises undue influence to convince a grantor to revoke his or her revocable trust, no challenge to the revocation is allowable.
Both situations involve improper influence that results in a change in a grantor’s estate planning disposition. Nonetheless, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals recently asserted that one type of influence is subject to challenge, while the other is not.
This unusual state of affairs was premised by the appeals court by the Florida Supreme Court case of Florida National Bank of Palm Beach County v. Genova, 460 So.2d 895 (Fla.1984). Genova provided that a grantor’s right to revoke his or her revocable trust should not be subject to challenge on undue influence grounds. Many believed that this case could be limited to situations when the grantor was still alive – that is, no challenge on undue influence grounds would lie while the grantor was living. However, the 4th DCA rejected the argument that Genova was so limited, and instead also applied its rule to reject an undue influence challenge to a revocable trust revocation after the grantor was deceased.
MacIntyre, ex rel. Wedrall Trust v. Wedell, --- So.3d ----, 2009 WL 1393375, Fla.App. 4 Dist., 2009.