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This sentence below is part of a Florida statute and is taken exactly as punctuated. Some read the word "except" as applying to the entire sentence, meaning, the first part of the sentence is read, "a beneficiary is entitled to a trust accounting except as provided under paragraph (c)". I argue that there is no comma after the word "trustee" therefore the word "except" only applies to the part of the sentence that begins "or upon chage of the trustee except as provided in paragraph (c)", meaning, upon change of a trustee paragraph (c) applies. If the clause "except as provided under paragraph (c)" applied to the beginning of the sentence, shouldn't there be a comma after "trustee"?

(4)(a) A beneficiary is entitled to a trust accounting, as set forth in s. 737.3035 , annually and upon termination of the trust or upon change of the trustee except as provided under paragraph (c).

And in (c) below where it says "the trustee's duties under this section" it is referring to the section 733.707(3) that it lists in the first part of the sentence. Some argue that when it says "the trustee's duties under this section" it is referring back to the sentence or section numbered 4(a) above. I think that is ridiculous. There is no reference to section 4(a) in the sentence. I argue that it is referring back to itself and can be read, in and of itself.

(c) In the case of a trust described in s. 733.707 (3), during the grantor's lifetime, the trustee's duties under this section extend only to the grantor or the legal representative of the grantor.

I am not a lawyer, nor a punctuation expert but I am dealing with a trust dispute in which the trustee does not want to account for my grandmothers estate. I believe that the lawyers are interpreting this statute incorrectly. Here is the entire statute below and links to the webpage below it. Thank you for any help.


The 2005 Florida Statutes
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Title XLII
ESTATES AND TRUSTS
Chapter 737
TRUST ADMINISTRATION
View Entire Chapter

737.303 Duty to inform and account to beneficiaries.--The trustee shall keep the beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration. The trustee's duty to inform and account includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Within 30 days after acceptance of the trust, the trustee shall inform the beneficiaries in writing of the acceptance of the trust and the full name and address of the trustee.
(2) Upon reasonable request, the trustee shall provide a beneficiary with a complete copy of the trust instrument, including amendments.
(3) Upon reasonable request, the trustee shall provide a beneficiary with relevant information about the assets of the trust and the particulars relating to administration.
(4)(a) A beneficiary is entitled to a trust accounting, as set forth in s. , annually and upon termination of the trust or upon change of the trustee except as provided under paragraph (c).
(b) For purposes of this section, the term "beneficiary" means:
1. All current income or principal beneficiaries, whether discretionary or mandatory; and
2. All reasonably ascertainable remainder beneficiaries who would take if all income interests immediately terminated.
(c) In the case of a trust described in s. (3), during the grantor's lifetime, the trustee's duties under this section extend only to the grantor or the legal representative of the grantor.
(d) A beneficiary or the beneficiary's representative, as defined in s. 731.303 , may waive, in writing, the trustee's duty to account under paragraph (a).
(e) All rights provided a beneficiary under this section may be asserted by a legal representative or natural guardian of the beneficiary. Notice under subsection (1) and a trust accounting under paragraph (a) provided to a representative of the beneficiary as defined in s. shall bind the beneficiary, and the trustee shall not be required to provide such notice or trust accounting to any beneficiary who would be bound by an order binding on a representative of the beneficiary under s. , if such notice or trust accounting, respectively, is provided to that representative.
(5) This section applies to trust accountings rendered for accounting periods beginning on or after January 1, 2003.
History.--s. 1, ch. 74-106; s. 6, ch. 75-221; s. 5, ch. 77-344; s. 12, ch. 95-401; s. 6, ch. 97-240; s. 4, ch. 2000-245; s. 10, ch. 2002-82; s. 26, ch. 2003-154.

http://www.flsenate.gov/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0737/SEC...
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I am reluctant to comment upon a legal matter but you will normally find lawyers have a better idea than laymen.

I would say that, to me, the first example is ambiguous. I could read it either way. The second example I would take to apply to the entire section - i.e. the whole of number 4. But what do I know? Get a lawyer who is on your side to look at it.
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From the hillbilly (since we can't speak it, we have to wtite clearly):

My opinion, which is only worth what you are paying for it, may not please you. If I understand correctly, grandma is still alive, and when she established the trust she preferred to NOT have Trustees be obligated to telling all to anyone other than herself as long as she lived, whether or not she might later be able to understand what they are telling. Sorry, it would seem that what grandma says (said) rules. Of course I'm not an attorney, and you can probably find one of them to fight for your position no matter what. And if you are concerned about grandma being robbed by the advisors you should look for an honest attorney (there are such) to help because there are supposed to be legal mechanisms to protect folks against such. But if you just want to know what the old gal has and how she spends it you should look for the other type of attorney.
Hi,

I am a lawyer (who's not yet qualified), but I should mention that I am not a native speaker. You must not rely on any information given on this board and should definitely consult an attorney with respect to your legal issues.

Generally, it would seem clear that

(1) "except" only refers to the "change of the trustee". Otherwise, we would find a comma after "trustee" and that

(2) "under this section" refers to the whole section (4).

HOWEVER, if subsection (c) referred to the whole section (4), this would be contradictory to subsection (a). This is because subsection (c) would in this way relativize all of subsection (a), not only part of it. It would therefore not make sense, to consider "except" as qualifying only the last part of subsection (a). Hence, the interepretations suggested under (1) and (2) cannot both be correct.

Accordingly, the question is whether "except" refers to the whole sentence OR if the phrase "under this section" refers to section 733.707(3). Only one of the two interpretations can be correct. I don't know the content of section 733.707(3) and whether this provision prescribes any duties at all. Nonetheless, even if it does, interpreting the term "under this provision" as referring to section 733.707(3) does not make sense to me in any event. More precisely, my (limited) experience tells me that a reference like the one found here, where the legislators simply refer to "this section", in most every case aims at the whole section, in which this reference is contained. Since subsection (c) in this way relativizes all of subsection (a), the only possible interpretation of subsection (a) is that "except" refers to the whole sentence. The comma was apparently omitted.
Bagle LawyerHi,

I am a lawyer (who's not yet qualified)

Hi

I'm a brain surgeon (who's not yet qualified)

My wife is a fighter pilot ( who's not yet qualified)

The job of a lawyer is to manipulate words in order to make his or her argument seem plausible. You are going to make a good lawyer Mr Bagle,................. quite dishonest................ but a good lawyer

Take no offence please..............but it is funny

Lionel
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