estate planning

How to Remove a Trustee

  • Posted on: Jan 20 2023
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When someone (a “settlor) establishes a trust, one of the things that they will have to decide on is who will serve as its trustee. Since the trustee will be the one overseeing the trust and being responsible for its beneficiaries, it’s important that he or she is someone who may have good legal knowledge, financial knowledge, and above all else, trustworthiness. Therefore, a lot of thought generally goes into who you will choose. 

However, even after taking the time to choose a trustee, the person chosen may turn out to be a poor choice. This could be due to a lack of financial understanding, sound judgment, or something else. But when the trustee has proven to be a poor choice, they may need to be removed from their position. Here’s how to remove a trustee. 

Filing a Motion for Removal 

Certain trusts also include a procedure for how the trustee can be removed. Unfortunately, sometimes trustees refuse to abide by the procedure. Therefore, the most common way that someone will start the process of removing a trustee is by filing a motion. 

Who Can File a Motion for Removal?

The settlor, a co-trustee, or a beneficiary of the trust has the right to file a motion for removal. The individual who is seeking to have the trustee removed must prove one of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

  • The trustee is unfit to hold the position
  • The trustee has taken excessive compensation for his work on the trust
  • The trustee has violated the trust 
  • There are co-trustees who are hostile or will not cooperate
  • The trustee cannot carry out their duties
  • The trustee failed to act in a manner to preserve trust assets or maximize the associated trust income
  • The trustee has committed fraud or exercised undue influence
  • Any other good cause

What Can the Court Do?

It is the right of the court to suspend a trustee’s powers or transfer trust assets. If the court finds that the individual who filed the motion to have the trustee removed did so in bad faith, the court can order that party to pay the trustee’s legal fees in total or in part. 

The law doesn’t make it easy to remove a trustee since people may wish to do so for ulterior motives. While not impossible to remove a trustee, it does require a lot of evidence and such motions for removal aren’t commonly granted. 

The Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC Help those Who Wish to Remove a Trustee 

If you or your loved one live in California and would like to remove a trustee, it’s in your best interest to consult with a qualified California estate-planning attorney who can help. 

At the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC, we know how important it is to protect those whom you love so much. We will help you to establish a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs and to fight against anyone who tries to work against them. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

Posted in: Wills and Trusts