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Estate and Elder Law

Can Your Florida Trust Document Limit a Settlement


Chapter 736 of the Florida Statutes provides for a trustee and beneficiary or the Florida courts to modify a trust agreement (i) if it is in the best interests of the beneficiary, (ii) to accomplish a grantor's intent, or (iii) for other appropriate purposes. This typically involves a settlement agreement with changes made to the trust instrument.

In Bellamy v. Langfitt, McMerty, and Northern Trust N.A., 37 Fla.L.Weekly D360 (3rd DCA, February 8, 2012) [enhanced version available to subscribers], the parties were faced with a trust instrument which barred a court from modifying the trust terms. On appeal, the 3rd DCA reversed a trial court that had approved a settlement agreement modifying a trust instrument when the trust instrument included a clause that read to "the extent permitted by law, I prohibit a court from modifying the terms of this Trust Agreement."

This ruling is food for thought for those anticipating an inheritance dispute upon their death.

View more information from Marc J. Soss at and

Marc Soss' practice focuses on estate and tax planning; probate and trust administration and litigation; guardianship law; and corporate law in Southwest Florida.  Marc is a frequent contributor to LISI and has published articles and been quoted in the Florida Bar, Rhode Island Bar, North Carolina Bar, Association of the United States Navy, Lawyers USA, Military.Com, Forbes.Com, and CNN Business. Marc also serves as an officer in the United States Naval Reserve.

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