Pursuant to Section 736.0406 of the Florida Trust Code, if the creation, amendment or restatement of a trust is procured by fraud, duress or mistake, the trust or any part so procured is void. Further, if the revocation of a trust, or any part thereof, is procured by fraud, duress, mistake, such revocation is void.
Fraud or duress have been recognized as grounds for terminating a trust under Florida law, long before the enactment of the Florida Trust Code. Historically, trusts were governed by similar principles for the rescission of contracts, which include fraud, coercion and duress. The Florida Trust Code now clearly provides that a trust is void if procured by fraud or duress.
Mistakes in execution on the part of the grantor may negate what would otherwise be a valid trust under Florida law. A mistake in the inducement, however, will not invalidate an otherwise valid trust under Florida law. The general rule relating to trust contests involving mistakes is set forth by the Florida Supreme Court in Forsythe v. Spielberger, 86 So. 2d 427 (Fla. 1956). There, the Supreme Court distinguished mistakes affecting the inducement in creating a trust or a trust amendment, as opposed to mistakes in the execution of an instrument. The facts in the Forsythe case involve the grantor’s mistaken belief that a trust beneficiary had removed diamonds in a certain ring and replaced them with false diamonds. Based on this mistaken belief, the grantor amended the trust to disinherit that beneficiary. The beneficiary was able to prove in court that she did not remove the diamonds from the ring. Nevertheless, since the grantor’s mistake was an inducement to amend the trust, as opposed to a mistake in the wording or content of the trust, the Florida Supreme Court could not void the grantor’s trust amendment, despite the mistaken belief of the grantor.