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RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29643
Experience:  Texas lawyer for 29 years in Estate law
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In 2000 my ex-husband and I set up 3 (irrevocable) trust accounts,

Customer Question

In 2000 my ex-husband and I set up 3 (irrevocable) trust accounts, 1 for each of our children, under Florida law. They are now 21, 20 and 18. I was able to get my hands on a copy of the original contract. I am the grantor and their father is the trustee. The problem: in 2000 there was $62K in each of the accounts, today there is less than $40k. I do have proof that in 2009 he took some of the capital out ($5000). I have custody of the children since our separation in 2005. He is a rich businessman (he's got a couple million in assests), and all he has ever paid for his children is 350€/month per child. He never paid anything other than that so he cannot say that he took money out of those accounts for the children (I paid for the private and semi-private schools, the school trips, etc etc).
My two older children want to sue him for the money that he took out, plus interest. What can we do? We live in France - dual nationality French/American.
I read a clause where it says:
"Trustee shall render an account of receipts and disbursements at least annually to Grantor..." Does that mean I can ask (demand) that he justifies all withdrawals he had made over the years?
Also, I thought I understood that any money withdrawn, since it is to be used for the beneficiary (child) must be paid directly to the parent who has custody (me). Is that generally true?
Thank you for your help.
P.S. Just to give you an idea of the type of person we are dealing with, I just recently found out that at the time of the divorce he had 2 houses (villas on the French Riviera) that he "hid", that did not enter into the divorce (divorce with no contract, 50-50 split ... normally).
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your questions and good day to you.I am sorry for your dilemma and situation.

Here if your children are the beneficiaries they can sue their father for any breach of fiduciary duties.These breaches include failure to account to them and loss of funds.They would need a local Florida lawyer where the ex lives to bring suit for this.They can also seek removal of him as trustee of the truck as well as damages here.The trustee has personal liability for any loss of funds, failure to account, etc.

As far as the property you mention this was undivided marital property.You could retunr to divorce court and seek to add it to the property settlement and be awarded your share of it.You would file where the divorce was granted.Since this was owned during the marriage and not divided you may well return to divorce court to seek to have it divided by the court.The court might also sanction here for failure to disclose and award you lawyer fees and costs.


Your children and you here can locate a lawyer here..

The Florida Bar LRS
Tallahassee, FL

Phone:(NNN) NNN-NNNN
Toll free:(NNN) NNN-NNNN(Statewide & Nationwide)
Counties Served: Statewide

 

Here is information about such suits for breach of fiduciary duty.

 

http://www.florida-probate-lawyer.com/litigation/breach-of-fiduciary-duty-heir-beneficiary-rights/


I appreciate the chance to assist you today.Please know that you and the children do have remedies here in Florida where he resides to seek damages and his removal for breach of fiduciary duties to the trust.

 

I hope that you will be so kind as to leave a positive rating. If you do have any additional questions about my answer please click the "Continue Conversation Link" so I can provide you with a fully satisfactory answer. Please be aware that any rating of 1 or 2 is reflected as a negative rating and I receive no credit for my answers.

 

 

 

 

 

This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship.Information provided here is not legal advice. Rather it is simply general information.

 

RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 29643
Experience: Texas lawyer for 29 years in Estate law
RayAnswers and other Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.
Here is more about removal of trustee and Florida law.

736.0706 Removal of trustee.
(1) The settlor, a cotrustee, or a beneficiary may request the court to remove a trustee, or a trustee may be removed by the court on the court’s own initiative.
(2) The court may remove a trustee if:
(a) The trustee has committed a serious breach of trust;
(b) The lack of cooperation among cotrustees substantially impairs the administration of the trust;
(c) Due to the unfitness, unwillingness, or persistent failure of the trustee to administer the trust effectively, the court determines that removal of the trustee best serves the interests of the beneficiaries; or
(d) There has been a substantial change of circumstances or removal is requested by all of the qualified beneficiaries, the court finds that removal of the trustee best serves the interests of all of the beneficiaries and is not inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust, and a suitable cotrustee or successor trustee is available.
(3) Pending a final decision on a request to remove a trustee, or in lieu of or in addition to removing a trustee, the court may order such appropriate relief under s. 736.1001(2) as may be necessary to protect the trust property or the interests of the beneficiaries.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Concerning the trust accounts you wrote: "They would need a local Florida lawyer where the ex lives to bring suit for this."


Their father is French, living in France. Does this change anything? He does have a green card - if that changes anything.


Would I still need a Florida lawyer or an international lawyer?


 


Is it possible to hire a lawyer who will take a commission on whatever settlement is done or to get him to pay the lawyer's fees so that I don't have to put money out. Or do I just have to plan on paying?


 


P.S. For the continuing divorce problems ... I've contacted my divorce lawyer for that. Thank you.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.
If he is France here living you could file this in France.Ask you divorce lawyer for a referral for the trust issues.This is logically much easier for you.You would have great facts for breach of fiduciary duty since he has not accounted for funds and funds have been lost or mis spent.See if your divorce lawyer cannot help you locate a local lawyer to pursue this matter.I wish you the best with all of this.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

 

To complicate matters even more .... In late 1999 he set up accounts in the children's names. I'm not sure what "kind" of accounts they were but they were definitely in the names of each of the 3 children, I can do more research to find out. In February of 2000 each account had $126,000 in it. 3 months later those accounts went down to $62K each when he created this more official trust account I mentioned above. If that first account was (maybe) not a trust account, but it was in the kids' names can they sue him for a starting amount of $126,000 each or only for the $62000 when the trust fund was put into place?

 

To me it simply looks like he was moving money around to avoid paying taxes on it. That is my very un-educated opinion.

 

Thank you

 

P.S. For the continuing divorce problems ... I've contacted my divorce lawyer for that. Thank you.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.
If he is France here living you could file this suit in France.Ask you divorce lawyer for a referral for the trust issues.This is logically much easier for you to do so in France rather than Florida since defendant Trustee lives there..You would have great facts for breach of fiduciary duty since he has not accounted for funds and funds have been lost or mis spent.

See if your divorce lawyer can help you find another French lawyer to take this on contingency.That may well be possible to do so.

Thanks again for the follow up.I appreciate the chance to help you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you very much.


 


Your answers have been very helpful in a very difficult situation. I am relieved that I can do it here where I live. And I am especially relieved that we have the possibility to get a little bit of justice.


 


My opinion: if a man cheats his wife in the divorce - it's NOT COOL but we are adults. What I don't understand is cheating one's children, especially when there are no financial worries that would tempt someone to do so.


 


Just my 2 cents worth.

Expert:  RayAnswers replied 1 year ago.

I agree this is terrible for him to do this to his own children.

 

I hope that you are able to pursue recovery for them in the courts.

You may seek lawyer fees and costs to do so if you prevail.

 

I wish you the best.I appreciate the chance to help.

 

I hope that you will be so kind as to leave a positive rating. If you do have any additional questions about my answer please click the "Continue Conversation Link" so I can provide you with a fully satisfactory answer. Please be aware that any rating of 1 or 2 is reflected as a negative rating and I receive no credit for my answers.

 

 

 

 

This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship.Information provided here is not legal advice. Rather it is simply general information.

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