Over nearly 20 years, my law firm has received hundreds of phone calls asking – How can I fire my Trustee? or How can I remove my Trustee? In Florida, getting rid of a Trustee is called a trustee removal action where a beneficiary seeks to remove a trustee of a trust, sometimes for reasons other times for no reason. Florida Trust law contains specific statutes that address the removal of trustees.
According to Florida Statute §736.0706, removal of a trustee may be sought by the settlor, a co-trustee, or any beneficiary. In fact, a court may remove a trustee on its own. Grounds for removing a trustee include a serious breach of trust, lack of cooperation among co-trustees substantially impairing the administration of the trust, and unfitness, unwillingness, or persistent failure of the trustee to effectively administer the trust. The court may determine that the removal of the trustee best serves the interests of the beneficiaries. Any action to remove a trustee on these grounds would be considered a removal “for cause” although one can imagine that removal of the trustee to best serve the interests of the beneficiaries may not be for the cause but is otherwise warranted under the circumstances.
Florida Statute §736.0706 also permits the removal of a trustee “without cause” at the request of all of the qualified beneficiaries, or upon a showing of a substantial change in the circumstances. Removal on these grounds does not require proof of any breach of fiduciary duty, malfeasance, or other grounds for removal. It requires only that the removal of the trustee (or firing of the trustee as some like to say) best serves the interests of all beneficiaries, that the removal is not inconsistent with a material purpose of the trust, and that a suitable co-trustee or successor trustee be available.
So whether your trustee is treating the trust as his own personal checking account; repeatedly failing to provide accountings or reasonable information regarding the assets of your trust; failing to invest prudently, or any other grounds that constitute a serious breach of trust, or if you just don’t feel the trustee is providing any benefit and a suitable replacement trustee is ready and willing to take over at a lower cost, you as a beneficiary, co-trustee, or settlor, has the ability to seek removal through the Court.