Fach v. Brown Bros. Harriman Trust Co. of Florida, 949 So.2d 260 (Fla. 4th DCA Feb 07, 2007)
The issue explicitly addressed by the linked-to opinion is relatively simple: is an order appointing a successor trustee a final appealable order? The 4th DCA held it is not:
In this consolidated appeal, Barbara A. Fach and her daughter Lauren K. Cain appeal two non-final orders denying, without hearing, their emergency motions for relief from orders, filed pursuant to Rule 1.540(b), Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. The orders from which they sought relief were entered in an adversarial proceeding in which the probate court appointed U.S. Trust as the successor trustee to Brown Brothers Harriman Trust Company on an emergency basis in two separate cases. The appellees argue that this court lacks jurisdiction because the orders from which the appellants sought relief in the probate court were not final orders, and thereby not subject to Rule 1.540. We agree and dismiss the appeal.
What was really driving this appeal? . . . VENUE!
Although never stated in the linked-to opinion, I think the real issue driving this appeal was venue. Appointing a new corporate trustee may result in the trust’s "principal place of administration" changing to the location of the new corporate trustee’s "usual place of business" (736.0108), which in turn may result in a change of venue for trust litigation purposes (736.0204) (see here for real life example).
With this background in mind, the following excerpt from the linked-to opinion now makes sense:
At oral argument, the appellants essentially agreed that this appeal was taken to insure that the trial court had left certain issues open for consideration. In fact, in this case the probate court specifically asked whether it could appoint U.S. Trust as successor trustee and leave the situs of the trust in Palm Beach County, without prejudice to addressing the latter issue at a subsequent hearing. The court then dictated its order to counsel, again reiterating that the appointment was without prejudice to addressing the situs of the trust at a later time.