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Florida's adult adoption law can affect trust administration

Since adoption and trust administration are governed by Florida state law, every state handles these issues a little differently. One may not initially think that an issue of family law would impact issues in trust administration, but the two have crossed paths in Florida more than once. Recently a FL appeals court handed down a decision concerning adult adoption and its impact on trust administration. This isn't the first time decedents have been impacted by an issue of family law, according to court records.

Florida has a law in the family sector concerning adult adoption. Essentially, adult adoption is a legal possibility. While this is all well and good, you could see how this could affect trusts in which family members are entitled to certain assets or benefits. In a few instances, and one of them recent, trust allocation has attempted to be 'redirected' by using adult adoption as a means of altering or redirecting trusts and their benefits. Since one can legally adopt an adult in Florida, one can change recipients of trust benefits or impact how assets are allocated to other parties.

While in theory, people believed they had found a 'loophole' in the law so-to-speak, Florida courts have struck down the redirection of assets by means of adult adoption in several cases. Recently, the district court's decision was upheld, however, since the plaintiff could not prove that his assets or trust benefits had been affected by the adult adoption. In another case, the adoption of a man's girlfriend was struck down as it was determined to be fraud of the court.

In short, there are easier ways to list the beneficiaries of a trust. Adult adoption shouldn't be a person's first means of affecting or implementing trust benefits. Seeking the counsel of the appropriate parties can really help to make the goals of trust administration a reality. Especially in cases in which adult adoption affects other trust beneficiaries, this means of changing a trust will likely not hold up in Florida court.

Source: flarecord.com, "Appeals Court: Florida's Adoption Law Misused Again," Corinne Lincoln-Pinheiro, April 13, 2017

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