3d DCA: Can you sue a hostile party for fraud if they lie to you during settlement negotiations?

Juan Antunez discusses the case of Moriber v. Dreiling, where Ms. Moriber sues her mother over disputes involving a family business, her father’s estates & trusts, and three $1.5 million dollar insurance policies. Ms. Moriber’s mother allegedly made oral promises about these insurance policies, but Moriber realized she was being untruthful only after her mother passed away. The 3d DCA decided that you cannot sue a hostile party for fraud if they lie to you during settlement negotiations.

Read the beginning of the article here:

Moriber v. Dreiling, — So.3d —-, 2016 WL 145968 (Fla. 3d DCA January 13, 2016)

Lawyers love to brag about their court wins, not so much about their prowess as contract drafters. But the reality is that the vast majority of inheritance cases settle, which means in most instances “who gets what” is going to be the product of a settlement agreement, not some dramatic trial victory. And inheritance negotiations almost always turn on the value of the assets being divvied up.

So one of the big risk factors that needs to be nailed down in any estate-related settlement agreement is whether anyone’s being dishonest about the assets (which is easily done with “reps and warranties”, as discussed below). Two recent decisions out of the 3d DCA are prime examples of what can go wrong when this risk factor is NOT addressed in the text of your settlement agreement. The first was the Sugar case, which I wrote about here. The second is this case. Both boil down to one simple rule: GET IT IN WRITING!

Read the full article here

Posted by Pooja Shivaprasad, Associate Editor, Wealth Strategies Journal

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