David Howard Goldberg, P.L.

Removing a trustee may require trust litigation

The establishment of a trust is a complex step in the estate planning process. Because a trust goes beyond simply distributing assets after its creator trustee dies, there may be numerous legal elements at play, including tax ramifications and the trust's effect on government benefits. When a Florida trust creator names a successor trustee, the creator gives that person the legal authority to manage the assets according to the terms of the trust. However, if the beneficiaries of a trust are not happy with the successor trustee, it may lead to trust litigation.

It is possible for the beneficiaries of a trust to petition the court to remove or replace the trustee. However, this is not something the courts are happy to do just because the beneficiaries do not get along with the trustee. If the trustee is doing an adequate job managing the funds in the trust, the court is not likely to take action to remove him or her. However, in some cases, the court will approve a change in trustees.

One common reason for seeking a new trustee is when the trustee does not have the skill to effectively administer the trust. This may manifest itself in ill-advised investments or placing the trust assets at risk. A trustee may also intentionally mishandle the funds, breaching the trust the creator and beneficiaries have placed in him or her.

If the beneficiaries constantly knock heads with the trustee or the trustee fails to make an effort to cooperate with trustee partners, a Florida court may find it is in everyone's best interests to remove the trustee. This may not be easy if the trust specifically names that person or prohibits the replacement of the trustee. Facing these issues can be stressful and confusing, and many find it is helpful to have the assistance of an attorney with trust litigation skills.

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