Section 737.307 of the Florida Statutes provides for a limitation of actions against a trustee in two circumstances.  The first limitations period is six-months.  The second limitations period is four years.  So, what’s the distinguishing characteristic between the two limitations periods?

In Taplin v. Taplin, a Florida appellate court helps us understand the distinguishing characteristic.  The six-month limitation applies if the beneficiary has received a final, annual, or period account “fully disclosing the matter” while the four-year limitation applies if the beneficiary has “received a final account or statement” and the trustee “has informed the beneficiary of the location and availability of records.”

In other words, for the shorter six-month period to apply, there must have been given an “account” or “statement” which “fully discloses the matter.”  The four-year period applies when the “final account” or “statement” provided by the trustee does not satisfy the “full disclosure” threshold, but the trustee also make pertinent trust records available as required by statute.

Of course, an important precondition of either period is the receipt by the beneficiary of an “account” or “statement.” 

Absent a trustee’s compliance with the conditions in the limitation period statute, the common law applies.  And remember, Florida common law recognizes that a statute of limitations is inapplicable to shield trustees from their responsibilities to their beneficiaries.  So, it’s probably good practice for a Florida trustee to send out those statements with a good deal of detail in them.