No matter how many times it comes up, plaintiffs constantly seem to forget that when a lawsuit seeks some relief regarding a trust, then all beneficiaries of the trust must be joined as parties. In these cases, one or more trust beneficiaries usually get omitted by a plaintiff’s attorney trying to seek what they perceive to be a more advantageous venue or jurisdiction (for example, state court versus federal court). Those forum shopping tricks usually end up failing because, like the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently reminded us in Butler v. Saunders, when a plaintiff seeks relief regarding a trust, all trust beneficiaries must be joined as parties.
In Butler v. Saunders, however, the federal court encountered a different scenario: a trust beneficiary had been named as a defendant in a lawsuit, but several of his co-defendants argued that he was not a proper defendant. (more…)