EHQF Trust v. S & A Capital Partners, Inc. , — So.2d —-, 2007 WL 45838 (Fla. 4th DCA Jan 09, 2007)

I wrote here about a 2006 opinion out of the 5th DCA addressing Florida Rule of Probate Procedure 5.030(a), which, subject to limited exceptions, requires Florida guardians and personal representatives to be represented by counsel.  There’s no such rule for Florida trustees.  However, the 4th DCA came to the same conclusion with respect to trustees based on the following rationale:

The notice of appeal filed by appellant, a trust, was not signed by an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida. Section 454.23, Florida Statutes (2006), prohibiting the unlicensed practice of law, provides no exception for representation of a trust. Although Florida has not previously addressed the issue, other states have concluded that a trustee cannot appear pro se on behalf of the trust, because the trustee represents the interests of others and would therefore be engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. Curry v. Kilgore, 2004 UT App. 112 (Utah Ct.App.2004); Ziegler v. Nickel, 64 Cal.App.4th 545, 75 Cal.Rptr.2d 312 (Cal.2d 1998); Life Science Church v. Shawano County, 221 Wis.2d 331, 585 N.W.2d 625 (Wis.Ct.App.1998); Mahoning County Bar Ass’n v. Alexander, 79 Ohio St.3d 1220, 681 N.E.2d 934 (Ohio 1997); Beaudoin v. Kibbie, 905 P.2d 939 (Wyo.1995); Back Acres Pure Trust v. Fahnlander, 233 Neb. 28, 443 N.W.2d 604 (Neb.1989); In re Ellis, 53 Haw. 23, 487 P.2d 286 (Haw.1971).

It is therefore ordered that this appeal will be dismissed unless appellant files an amended notice of appeal signed by an attorney licensed to practice law within twenty days of this order. This appeal is stayed pending compliance with this order.