If a Trustee has violated their fiduciary duties or acted irresponsibly, then a Trustee removal attorney can get them to be removed to protect your inheritance rights.
How to Remove a Trustee in Florida?
In Florida, the courts won’t remove a trustee without a strong reason and significant supporting evidence.
If there is a compelling reason for their removal, a beneficiary, Co-Trustee or settlor must file a lawsuit petitioning for the Trustee’s removal. The court will then hear evidence and decide if any Florida Statute 736.0706 criteria have been met.
Why You Need a Trustee Removal Attorney:
To be successful, it is important that you hire a Florida Trustee removal attorney. Evidence must be provided in documents and testimonies. That requires depositions, expert witnesses, interrogations, interviews, subpoenaed documents – all that must comply with the Rules of Evidence.
Our experienced Estate Planning & Probate attorneys will walk you through every step of the process.
Reasons for a Trustee Removal
The creator of a Trust usually selects a Trustee very carefully. It is typically someone whose judgment can be relied upon for maintaining assets and making wise decisions in the best interest of the beneficiaries. By Florida law, a Trustee must uphold fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries.
Usually, that selection works without any problems. But sometimes, the Trustee can be problematic, dishonest, incompetent or, at worst, fraudulent. If this happens, there is a procedure in Florida law allowing for the process of their removal.
Criteria That Must Be Met:
Florida Statute 736.0706 states the court may be requested to remove a trustee if there has been:
- A serious breach of trust by the trustee
- A lack of cooperation among co-trustees that impairs the administration of the trust
- Unfitness, unwillingness or failure to administer the trust effectively (and the court deems it in the best interests of the beneficiaries to remove the trustee)
- Any substantial change in circumstances, making a Trustee removal in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
- A request was made by all the beneficiaries for the Trustee’s removal and if it serves their best interests.
Examples of Reasons for Trustee Removal
The following are common scenarios where Florida Statute 736.0706 has been met:
Failure to Comply with a Trust’s Terms
A Trustee is legally bound to abide by all the terms in a trust. If they fail or refuse to comply with any of the terms, there are likely grounds for removal.
A Trustee must make all decisions and actions in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Any distribution or dealings in their own favor, rather than the best interest of all beneficiaries, may be cause for removal.
Breakdown Of Communication With Beneficiaries
A Trustee must communicate with beneficiaries on all trust matters. If there is a lack of communication or radio silence, then the Trustee has failed to live up to those obligations.
Mismanagement of Trust Assets
A Trustee’s management should seek the growth of the estate’s asset value. If the opposite happens and they are wasted or devalued, a Trustee may be removed.
Fraud may have occurred if a Trustee has been self-dealing, selling or purchasing assets in the benefit of the executor or Trustee.
Other Examples That Call for Trustee Removal
- Abuse of Discretion
- Being Under Influence
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- Conflict of Interests
- Excessive Fees and Expenses
- Failure to Act
- Friction between Co-Trustees causing poor decision making
- Hostility towards beneficiaries
- Misappropriation of Funds
- Neglect or mismanagement of Trust assets
- Non-cooperation with beneficiaries or vital parties
- Unfit or mentally unstable
What Happens After a Trustee is Removed?
In most cases, the grantor will have selected one or more successor trustees when the Trust was established. If a Trustee has been removed, the successor will step in if they are willing and able to serve.
If there is a gap during the transition, then the original Trustee retains legal obligations to safeguard the trust’s property until it can be transferred. They’re also required to make delivery within a reasonable time after notification of their removal.
Finally, the outgoing Trustee may be entitled to keep sums to settle any outstanding obligations.
If there is no named successor, the court will appoint a successor Trustee in the best interest of the beneficiaries.
How to Replace a Trustee in Florida?
In order to replace a Trustee with a successor Trustee, the current Trustee must first be removed by filing a lawsuit petitioning for their removal.
Alternatively, you may feel a Trust has been improperly created or managed and needs changing. In these scenarios, you can file a Trust contest lawsuit to have it changed or declared invalid.
In Florida, certain requirements must be met to take legal action. These can be handled in regular civil courts or with mutual agreements outside court.
Who Pays for a Trustee Removal Attorney?
Usually, the interested party pays the Florida Trustee removal attorney, but if the removal action is successful, then the judge may order reimbursement from the estate. The Trustee can also hire an attorney, which can be paid for by the Trust but may have to be repaid for by the Trustee if ordered to do by the judge.
Contact A Florida Trustee Removal Attorney
If you or any other beneficiaries of an estate feel a Trustee has broken their legal requirements or if you think your inheritance rights have been infringed, then you should contact a Florida Trustee removal attorney as soon as possible.
Gathering the evidence, paperwork and proving to a court that a Trustee needs to be removed is far from easy and requires the legal expertise of a lawyer.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is a U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they give you the best chance of getting the resolution you hope for.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.