It’s possible to change the trustee of a trust in Florida. As a grantor, it can be as simple as amending the trust document. However, you will need to make a request with a court first.
You can also not simply exchange one trustee for another. First, you must remove the original trustee; then if desired, you can add a new trustee.
Must Know Trustee Info:
- A ‘trustee’ is an individual or entity, that is the legal owner of assets and property under the terms of a trust.
- The trustee must manage the trust in the best interests of the beneficiaries.
- The beneficiaries of a trust are the individuals selected to receive distributions or benefits from the trust, such as funds or assets.
- The person who created the trust is called a ‘grantor’, ‘settlor’, or ‘trustor’.
- The removal or replacement is governed by the terms of the trust agreement and by Florida state law.
Read Related: Guide for Executors and Trustees in Florida
How to Change a Trustee in Florida
Remove a Trustee as the Grantor
- Your trust agreement ordinarily will state the circumstances required for a trustee to be removed by the grantor.
- You will need to change the trust document.
- However, Florida law requires that you request the court to remove a trustee first.
Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trusts
- Revocable trusts are those that can be changed in your lifetime, at any moment.
- Revocable trusts allow you to edit the document, so you can freely change the trustees as a grantor.
- Irrevocable trusts are considered non-editable.
- Changes to these are very difficult or potentially impossible to change, and assistance with an estate planning lawyer will be required.
Appointing a New Trustee
Once you’ve removed the old trustee, the successor trustee will take over. However, as a grantor, you have the power to change the existing trustee or successor trustee via the trust document.
We advise you to act fast to avoid any confusion over who is the new trustee. It is best to have arranged with the new trustee in advance, so they don’t reject your proposal and leave your trust in a mess.
If you need any assistance with this, we welcome you to contact our Pinellas County trust lawyer.
When Can a Co-Trustee or Beneficiary Remove a Trustee?
- The trust agreement may also allow co-trustees to remove a trustee, via petition for removal.
- This is usually possible if the existing trustee has failed to meet their fiduciary duties.
- For example, if they haven’t managed the trust in the best interests or good faith of the beneficiaries then there may be grounds for their removal.
- Circumstances that may warrant their removal may include:
- Violating trust agreement requirements
- Mismanagement of trust assets
- Conflict of interest (such as favoring one beneficiary over another)
- Excessive fees
- Inability or lack of effort to communicate with beneficiaries
- Mental incapacity
- Lack of transparent updates on the trust’s situation
Petition for Removal
By filing a ‘petition for removal of a trustee’, beneficiaries and trustees can potentially remove a trustee through court removal.
Sufficient evidence will be required to show the court that the trustee breached their fiduciary duties or trust agreement requirements.
How to Remove a Trustee as a Co-Trustee
Co-trustees may be able to seek the removal of a trustee if there has been a serious conflict or bad faith behavior.
If this has happened to you (as a co-trustee), we advise you to speak to the grantor. If the grantor isn’t alive (or is incapacitated), you can also inform the beneficiaries.
However, this can be complicated and even pose the risk of bad faith behavior yourself if it’s deemed your opinions are incorrect. It is therefore best to go through the assistance of a reputable Pinellas County trustee lawyer.
How to Remove a Trustee as a Beneficiary
A majority vote from the beneficiaries of the trust may allow for the removal of a trustee if there has been evidence of bad faith behavior or a failure to meet the fiduciary duties.
The best thing to do is contact a Pinellas County trust attorney.
Asking the Trustee to Step Down
A far more straightforward option that avoids the need to file a lawsuit is to confront the Trustee via a letter and ask them to resign.
This can work in cases where the Trustee has recognized their failure to uphold their duties or is overwhelmed by the task at hand. It can save them a lot of time, effort and even money to simply step down.
If you meet resistance, however, you will need to take the court approach with an attorney’s assistance.
Hire an Estate Planning Attorney for Trusts in Pinellas County, FL
If you want to add or change a trustee or will, then our Pinellas County estate planning attorneys can help. We regularly help Floridians amend their trust documents and request the courts for a new trustee, following bad faith behaviors or poor choices.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you create a will or trust.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started.