The Fort Myers trustee is incompetent and will not give me information. What can I do?

I get this question a lot.  Generally, the context of the question is that the settler (person who created the trust) has died and the trust is being administered for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  The trust terms can require that assets are distributed outright, or the trust terms can hold assets in trust for varying lengths of time.  Regardless of the length of the trust, the trustee is required to provide “qualified beneficiaries” with certain information, and this information requirement cannot be waived by the trust.  For example, Florida statute 736.0813 requires the trustee to give qualified beneficiaries the following: 

The trustee shall keep the qualified beneficiaries of the trust reasonably informed of the trust and its administration.

   (1) The trustee's duty to inform and account includes, but is not limited to, the following:

      (a) Within 60 days after acceptance of the trust, the trustee shall give notice to the qualified beneficiaries of the acceptance of the trust and the full name and address of the trustee.

      (b) Within 60 days after the date the trustee acquires knowledge of the creation of an irrevocable trust, or the date the trustee acquires knowledge that a formerly revocable trust has become irrevocable, whether by the death of the settlor or otherwise, the trustee shall give notice to the qualified beneficiaries of the trust's existence, the identity of the settlor or settlors, the right to request a copy of the trust instrument, and the right to accountings under this section.

      (c) Upon reasonable request, the trustee shall provide a qualified beneficiary with a complete copy of the trust instrument.

      (d) A trustee of an irrevocable trust shall provide a trust accounting, as set forth in s. 736.08135, to each qualified beneficiary annually and on termination of the trust or on change of the trustee.

      (e) Upon reasonable request, the trustee shall provide a qualified beneficiary with relevant information about the assets and liabilities of the trust and the particulars relating to administration.

If the trustee violates a duty the trustee owes to a beneficiary, then the trustee has committed a breach of trust and a qualified beneficiary can sue the trustee.  Contact Cody & Linde, PLLC for additional information.