If you want to remove a Trustee in Florida, you’ll need a strong and compelling reason with significant evidence to back up your claims. Ultimately, the decision will be made by the court.
As Florida Trustee removal attorneys, we know how stressful and worrying it can be if a Trustee behaves badly and puts your inheritance at risk.
In this blog, we’ll explain how to remove a Trustee in Florida and the common questions associated with the topic:
Can I Remove a Trustee in Florida?
The Florida Trust Code allows settlors, co-trustees and beneficiaries to request the court for a Trustee to be removed. If any of the following criteria are met, there is a very strong chance the Trustee will be removed:
- The Trustee has committed a ‘serious breach of trust’.
- There is a lack of cooperation among co-trustees that is impairing the administration of the trust.
- The Trustee has shown unfitness, unwillingness or persistent failure to administer the Trust effectively.
- There has been a substantial change of circumstances.
- All beneficiaries have made a request and the court finds removal would be in the best interest of all beneficiaries.
How to Remove a Trustee – Steps:
Thankfully, there are a few ways of how to remove a Trustee in Florida:
Speak to a Florida Trustee Removal Attorney
This first step is critical. For any Florida Trustee removal attempt to be successful, it is highly advised that you hire a Florida Trustee removal attorney.
Florida law requires that significant evidence is provided in documents and testimonies. You can’t just turn up with some passionate claims.
You’ll need depositions, witnesses, interrogations, interviews and subpoenaed documents. This is far easier said than done as all evidence must comply with the Rules of Evidence.
Fear not, our Florida Trustee removal attorneys regularly help Florida beneficiaries tackle Trustee removal cases to save their inheritance.
Ask the Trustee to Step Down
The most simple step you can take, without the hassle of a judge and lawsuit, is to straight up ask the Trustee to resign via letter.
In some cases, the Trustee might realize the reality of poor handling of the Trust and admit it is best to step down.
However, in most cases, this isn’t going to happen. Trustees tend to enjoy their position and might be suspicious of calls to leave their duties.
If that fails, you can turn to a Trustee removal claim. Trustee removal occurs by filing a lawsuit petitioning for their removal.
Sometimes, Florida trusts will have specific removal provisions that can help with this process. But if there is no removal language, things might get a little more complicated.
Alternatively, a Trust contest lawsuit can give you the chance to have the Trust changed or declared invalid.
To take legal action, certain requirements must be met before the lawsuit is handled by regular civil courts or via mutual agreements outside court.
What Will Happen If a Trustee is Removed?
If the Trust creator (the grantor) selected a successor Trustee initially, then that successor will now step up to become the new Trustee (if they’re willing and able to do so).
Alternatively, if there is no named successor then the court will appoint an appropriate successor Trustee in the best interests of the Trust’s beneficiaries.
During any transition periods, the original Trustee will remain legally obliged to protect the trust’s property and behave appropriately. They must also make delivery of any property and documents within a reasonable time after notification of their removal.
The Trustee is usually entitled to keep sums to settle outstanding obligations.
How to Remove a Trustee Checklist
If you and other beneficiaries are asking how to remove a Trustee in Florida, ensure you’re aware and are following these points:
- Speak to a Florida Trustee Removal Attorney
- Contact other beneficiaries to see if they are on board with your plans and whether they will also file for Trustee removal.
- Consider whether the Trustee has committed a serious breach of trust or Trustee duties.
- Collect and note any evidence (such as documents and emails) that may support your claims.
- With the help of your attorney, consider the appropriate steps, which may include:
- Asking the Trustee to resign;
- Filing a Trustee removal lawsuit under Fla. Stat. 736.0201;
- Making a Trust contest.
Common Examples of Trustee Removals
Sadly, Trustees sometimes sell or purchase assets with their own interests or a third-party’s interests in mind. For example, they might sell an asset to someone in exchange for their own personal gain or at the cost of a beneficiary.
Fraud is a serious crime and you should speak to a Florida Trustee removal attorney as soon as possible if you believe it is currently happening or has happened.
Similarly, if a Trustee distributes or deals assets in their own favor, and not in the best interests of the beneficiaries, then you have a strong reason for a Trustee removal.
Not Complying with Trust Terms
The Trustee has a legal duty to follow all the terms in a trust. Any failure or refusal to comply with even just one of the terms justifies the removal of a Trustee.
In the past, we’ve seen clients come to us and report radio silence from the Trustee. Whether they’ve become distracted, too busy or just neglected their duties, a breakdown in communication with beneficiaries is often grounds for removal.
Wasting and Devaluing the Trust Assets
A Trustee’s job is to act in the best interests of all the beneficiaries – that includes seeking the growth of the estate’s asset value. If they waste, devalue, give away, or sell assets with blatantly low prices, there may be grounds for Trustee removal.
Contact a Florida Trustee Removal Attorney
If you and other beneficiaries are wondering how to remove a Trustee in Florida, then we can help. As highly experienced Florida Trustee Removal attorneys and Estate Planning lawyers, we know how to handle even the most extreme of cases.
Even minor cases require an attorney to support the most as you’ll need to convince the courts with significant and compelling evidence that Trustee removal is required – which may be difficult to gather.
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 attorneys, they can help you make an effective and smooth Florida Trustee removal.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.