Undue Influence Argument Is Undone

Miller v. Bohan, 4D11-1169

The Law Offices of Robin Bresky recently won an affirmance of a final judgment in our client’s favor in an appeal involving a trust amendment. Our client’s remaining living sister brought a lawsuit against our client contesting the trust amendment their deceased sister had executed in favor of our client. Our client’s remaining living sister argued that our client, who had helped care for her ill sister at the end of her life, had exercised undue influence over her sister in the execution of the trust amendment prior to her death. The trial court found that our client had successfully rebutted the legal presumption of undue influence arising from her involvement in the execution of the trust amendment. The trial court found after listening to all of the evidence at trial that the deceased sister knew what she was doing when she amended her trust, that she had her own valid reasons for amending the trust, and that she knew what she was doing on the day she executed the amendment.

On appeal, our client’s remaining living sister argued that the trial court had failed to correctly apply the burden-shifting procedure required by section 733.107, Florida Statutes, to evaluate whether our client successfully rebutted the presumption of influence. Our firm argued that the trial court had diligently applied the evidence to the appropriate legal framework established by the statute and had properly concluded that there was no undue influence. We also argued that competent substantial evidence in the record supported the factual findings made by the trial court in the final judgment.

The Fourth DCA issued a per curiam affirmance (“PCA”) affirming the trial court’s final judgment in favor of our client. The Fourth DCA also awarded our client attorney’s fees in connection with the appeal. This result preserved the final judgment in favor of our client and maintained the trust amendment in accordance with the wishes of her deceased sister.