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No Trustee Fiduciary Breach Where Purchaser of Estate Property Flipped Property (Fla. App.)

Sloan was the trustee for the Hemphill trust, created by a pour-over will, which provided income payments to the beneficiaries, the settlor’s children, until age 25 at which time their trust share could be distributed. In her capacity as trustee, Sloan listed trust property, Keysville Road Grove, for sale. She retained a real estate attorney and listed the property for $1.225M. The plaintiff beneficiary had approved the listing price. Sloan entered into a contract with Greentree for the sale of Keysville Road Grove for $1.5 million. Sloan executed a warranty deed for the property. The grantee named in the recorded deed, however, was Taipan, not Greentree. In addition, the documentary stamps affixed to the deed were consistent with a sales price of $4.5 million. The beneficiary sued asserting a breach of fiduciary duty for selling the property for $3 million less than was purportedly paid and the trial court agreed. The decision was overturned on appeal. The court noted that Sloan never saw the recorded deed and was never informed that the purchase price was anything other than $1.5 million. Her only indications of market value were two appraisals each under $625,000. The check Sloan received at closing was for her contracted price. The court found no evidence that Sloan knew of the immediate second sale between Greentree and Taipan. The trial court erred in concluding that Sloan breached her fiduciary duty, causing damage to the beneficiaries of the Trust, and erred in imposing a $3 million surcharge against Sloan.

Estate of Marlene L. Sloan, 2011 Fla. App. LEXIS 14660 (September 16, 2011)

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