February 26, 2007 2:49 PM   Subscribe

Land Trust Filter: How do you remove a trustee from a Florida Land Trust?

I'm asking this question for a friend of mine who is in a bit of a pickle, hoping the hive mind here has a suggestion for him. Here it goes:

"A few years ago I put several rental houses into Florida Lands Trusts to facilitate getting Hospice care for my ailing wife. This was done by recording a Quit Claim Deed To Trustee.

Now I am having problems with my trustee who is refusing to do trustee duties but won't sign resignation papers. She claims to have never agreed to be the trustee. At the time of recording the deed my wife said the trustee agreed. It is the trustee's word against my, now deceased, wife's. Whether not not the trustee agreed is moot since the deed is in her name, and she never had to sign a trustee agreement.

I want to remove the trustee but
don't see how to do this covered in 689.071 Florida Land Trust Act.

I am the sole beneficiary of the trust and it seems that there should be a way for me to remove/replace an uncooperative trustee without having to go into a lengthy and expensive legal process.

Anyone know what I need to do? I have someone who is ready to buy the property..."
posted by mad_little_monkey to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You need to hire a real lawyer, not ask strangers on the Internet. For real. Please.
posted by falconred at 3:10 PM on February 26, 2007

Best answer: What's the trustee's story? That the settlor just gave her the land as a gift? Weird.

What does the trust agreement say? Maybe it provides for removal.

In any event, you're going to have to sue, either to enforce the removal provision of the trust agreement or to get the court to determine that the trustee hasn't effectively administered the trust.

This may not fix your problem, though, since it sounds like you actually want to dissolve the trust, not just replace the trustee with someone competent.

I don't see any way to proceed without a lawyer versed in Florida trust law.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:57 PM on February 26, 2007

How do you remove a trustee from a Florida Land Trust?

You call a Florida trusts and estates lawyer. Duh.

(IAAL, but I do not represent you, and this is not legal advice.)
posted by raf at 4:14 PM on February 26, 2007

Best answer: >it seems that there should be a way for me to remove/replace an uncooperative trustee without having to go into a lengthy and expensive legal process

You cannot do it without legal process - courts and lawyers must be involved.

"Lengthy" and "expensive" are relative terms. I have to believe that several rental homes are worth a million dollars or more. In order to ensure that property of this value is properly handled, spending ten or twenty thousand dollars is a bargain. And what you need to accomplish could well be much less than that.

Do not be afraid to spend money, and do it the right way, to protect an investment.
posted by megatherium at 4:48 AM on February 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks.

This guy lost his (young) wife to cancer, he's been lawyered to death with probate. A friend agreed to let them move the properties into her name so that the dying woman could get care from hospice - they didn't have any insurance. Now - he's ready to sell the properties and the trustee won't sign, won't do anything.

He's a neat guy, a good researcher and I've been really impressed with the things he's been able to do on his own. He defended himself once in court before and won.

It's a shame, his trustee just flaked out on him. His rentals are not worth anywhere close to a million bucks & he's selling to try and get back on his feet after taking care of her sans insurance.

Normally, askmefi is pretty kind and supportive people that want to try and handle everything they can without help - usually great ideas & problem solving here. He was just wondering if he could ask her to sign a quit claim or something without a court order. Frankly - I'm pretty surprised at the snark that this question brought up.

Thanks again for your time.
posted by mad_little_monkey at 4:59 AM on February 27, 2007

I am the sole beneficiary of the trust and it seems that there should be a way for me to remove/replace an uncooperative trustee without having to go into a lengthy and expensive legal process.

Most trusts contain extremely strong, legally binding language about becoming irrevocable on the death of a trustor. The reason for this is that presumably the trustor created the trust and handed over the property to the trust with the intent that it be managed by the named trustee.

Then someone comes along after the trustor's death - maybe the beneficiary, maybe a third party like you and says, "No, no, now the intent of the dead person would be that the trustee do what we think they should do, not what they see fit to do. Therefore, let's conveniently break the trust and do what we please."

However, the whole point of establishing a trust in life is to be certain - ironclad certain before the law, as much as can ever be - that this cannot happen. If it can happen, there would be no point in forming the trust in the first place, as it would lack legal meaning. (The whole point of trusts, specifically, is not to shelter assets from net worth evaluations in order to defraud Medicaid into providing long-term care for the affluent. More on that later.) The law assumes that the trustor picked the trustee that she wanted, did so for a reason, and formed the trust for the purpose of assuring this under the law.

Unless the trust itself contains an "out," you're quite stuck. Often the trust contains a list of potential trustees, worded such as "If *A* cannot or will not serve as trustee, then *B* will serve as sole trustee until such time as they cannot or will not serve." If so, you can just have the recalcitrant trustee bow out, in front of the notary.

If she won't cooperate, you'll have to break a document that was created by lawyers to be unbreakable. This will require more lawyers and a lot of time and money. That's part of why you're getting snark - no one likes to see a lawyer win one.

The other reason is that you (or your friend) formed this trust to shelter assets for the purpose of committing insurance fraud. Ethically, this sucks. Also, depending on how you do it, it can be against the law, and you can go to jail for it. So I'd probably advise you to quit posting to public websites about it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:04 PM on February 27, 2007

By the way, for more on why you can't just dump your assets into a trust when Medicaid knocks on your door to find out if you're poor enough to qualify, and then have them back out again whenever you want them, you might Google the term "sham trust."
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:06 PM on February 27, 2007

Finally, it occurs to me that the reason your friend decided not to serve as trustee is that someone advised her that participating in a sham trust with intent to defraud Medicaid is a bad idea.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:07 PM on February 27, 2007

« Older Online Casino?   |   Help me sift through the deluge of potential... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.