A trustee owes a fiduciary duty to the property held in trust and its beneficiaries. Therefore, a trustee must always act in the best interest of the beneficiaries, upholding their duties with loyalty and prudently administering the trust.
What happens if a trustee does not satisfy the required standard to administer the trust? Are beneficiaries allowed to remove a trustee? Keep reading to find out how it is possible to remove a trustee in Florida.
Trustee Removal in Florida – Communicating the Decision
Several reasons may lead to the suspension or removal of a trustee in Florida, such as:
- A breach of fiduciary duty
- Unwillingness or inability to effectively administer the trust
- Persistent failure to perform as required by statutory rules
- A significant change in circumstances that justify the removal for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries
- A request for removal agreed between all qualified beneficiaries of the trust
Primarily, the best approach would be sitting down with all qualified beneficiaries to decide on the removal of the trustee. If all the parties involved give their consent, it is possible to ask the trustee to resign.
The guidance of an expert attorney is crucial to handle the situation in the best possible way.
How Do You Remove a Trustee in Florida? – Reviewing the Trust Instrument
If the trustee does not accept the petition for resignation, there are still other manners to remove him/her from the role. Depending on how the trust instrument was structured, the document may provide specific removal provisions.
For instance, if there is language in the document expressly stating that the majority of the beneficiaries have the authority to remove a trustee, it is possible to remove the trustee without going to court.
If the trust instrument does not provide an alternative, the only way out to remove a trustee is to ask a Florida court to intervene in the arrangement.
How Do You Remove a Trustee in Florida? – Going to the Court
As provided by Florida Statutes §736.0201 (2), “the court may intervene in the administration of a trust to the extent the court’s jurisdiction is invoked by an interested person or as provided by law.”
Florida Statutes §736.0706 (1) states that “the settlor, a co-trustee, or a beneficiary may request the court to remove a trustee, or a trustee may be removed by the court on the court’s own initiative.”
Accordingly, “the court may remove a trustee if:
- The trustee has committed a serious breach of trust
- The lack of cooperation among co-trustees substantially impairs the administration of the trust
- Due to the unfitness, unwillingness, or persistent failure of the trustee to administer the trust effectively, the court determines that removal of the trustee best serves the interests of the beneficiaries, or
- There has been a substantial change of circumstances or removal is requested by all of the qualified beneficiaries, the court finds that removal of the trustee best serves the interests of all of the beneficiaries and is not inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust, and a suitable cotrustee or successor trustee is available”
As it is plain to see, removing a trustee in court requires solid legal grounds, as a trust beneficiary may not remove a trustee simply due to personal reasons.