Florida Removal of Trustee
Beneficiaries of Florida trusts have a lot of rights ! And, let’s face it, trustees have a lot of duties which they owe to their beneficiaries. A trustee agrees to, volunteers to, be loyal and prudent with their beneficiaries. No secret fees or self dealing. No stealing or civil theft. So, what does a beneficiary do when they learn that their trustee is acting badly? You could ask a Probate Court judge to suspend the trustee. Or you could sue for damages. But, many beneficiaries want Florida removal of trustee. Let’s see how this is done, in plain-English.
Steps to Removing Your Florida Trustee
There are two ways to remove a trustee without a judge and a trust lawsuit. Removing a trustee can start with a letter asking the trustee to resign. To step down. But, does that really work? I guess the next question that you have to ask yourself is. How long are you going to give the trustee to decide? Most trustees don’t want to resign. If that happens, and there’s no trustee resignation, then you are left with removal. Removal can be done if permitted by the trust document. Sometimes, Florida trusts have specific removal provisions. For example. A majority of the beneficiaries might be able to remove a trustee. Or, sometimes it says that you need the consent or agreement of all trust beneficiaries. Let’s say that your Florida trust document does not have removal language . Now what?
Florida Trust Code
Well, before you reach for the Florida Trust Code, think about this. Does your trust document require mediation or arbitration? There is a specific statute on that. You may be required to mediate or arbitrate before you file suit. If you file suit, then look at Florida Trust Code 736.0201. This is the law that permits a court to intervene in the administration of a trust. It gives a probate judge great power and discretion. What kind? Well, she can take many actions over a trust and trust property. Including requiring a trustee to account and also removing or suspending a trustee.
Florida’s Trustee Removal Law
There is one very specific Florida Trust Law on Florida removal of Trustee. It is Fla. Stat. 736.0706. This is the trustee removal statute found in the trust code. Here are the steps to getting your trustee removed. If she won’t resign and the beneficiaries can’t replace here.
- File a removal lawsuit under Fla. Stat. 736.0201.
- Make sure that you allege the proper things in your trust complaint.
- Before you do 1. above, make sure you have standing. That means you have to be a beneficiary, or co trustee. Or at least an “interested person.” The trust code and probate code define and explain those concepts.
- Consider whether your trustee committed a “serious breach of trust”. And tell the court in your complaint what you believe that was and why the trust is harmed.
- If you are a co trustee and the co trustees are not getting along, say that. If co trustees cant get along, it may make sense to have a successor trustee run things. In that case a court can consider removing one, or both, trustees.
- Consider three things:
- Do you believe that the trustee unfit?
- Is the trustee unwilling to do her job?
- Was the trustee failing to administer the trust effectively?
- These are specific provision in the removal statute that should be addressed head-on in your trust lawsuit. You just can’t remove a trustee because you don’t like him.
- Enunciate who removal of your trustee is in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
- If removal won’t work, consider suspension or alternative methods to set the trust on the right track and to protect beneficiaries. And trust property.