In Florida, may a Trustee of a Trust be removed?

Section 736.0706 of Florida Statutes provides for the removal of a Florida trustee under certain circumstances.

Under this statutory section, the settler (the person setting up the trust), a co-trustee, or a beneficiary of the trust may request that the applicable probate court remove a trustee. In addition, a trustee may be removed by the court on the court's own initiative if the court learns of grounds for doing so.

Grounds for the court to remove a trustee include:

(a) The trustee has committed a serious breach of trust;

(b) The lack of cooperation among co-trustees substantially impairs the administration of the trust;

(c) 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

(d) 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 co-trustee or successor trustee is available.

When the settler, a co-trustee or a beneficiary believe that a trustee should be removed, an action will need to be filed in the Florida probate court having jurisdiction over the trustee. In most instances, since this action amounts to the filing of a lawsuit, the person filing is best served by having a probate lawyer who is experienced in handling contested litigation matters.

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