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3 times beneficiaries can remove a trustee from their position

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2024 | Estate Administration

Estate or trust litigation is often initiated because of questions about the validity of documents. Other times, people recognize that a trustee has a longer-term obligation than the personal representative of an estate in many cases. They may spend decades managing trust assets and distributing them when appropriate.

Not every person appointed as a trustee can actually fulfill those responsibilities. Sometimes, the beneficiaries of a trust reach the uncomfortable conclusion that they need to remove the trustee from their position. The following are three of the common reasons that people to remove or replace a trustee who is helping to administer a California trust.

Inaction or incompetence

Trustees must consistently take care of trust resources and respond to distribution requests from beneficiaries. When they fail to do so, they can do real damage to the assets in their care or the circumstances of beneficiaries. The beneficiaries of the trust may have fewer resources to use because of poor trustee oversight. Both situations in which a trustee has consistently failed to perform their duties and scenarios in which they have done so incompetently families may be able to request their removal and replacement.

Health issues

Sometimes, a trustee has no issue upholding their obligations to the trust and its beneficiaries initially. They may secure and manage invested resources and distribute them in an appropriate fashion to the beneficiaries of the trust, only to develop health issues later in life. Medical challenges and cognitive decline related to age could necessitate the removal of a trustee because they can no longer perform their duties as they once did.

Unethical conduct

Sometimes, an individual who is perfectly capable of managing a trust and has a history of doing so properly can violate their duty to the trust and its beneficiaries. They might embezzle, taking trust assets for personal enrichment. They might engage in self-dealing, hiring themselves or a business that they have an association with to provide services for the trust. They might even let their personal relationships take precedence over the instructions for the trust, possibly by refusing to distribute resources to specific beneficiaries.

Those initiating trustee litigation often need compelling evidence of failures, incompetence or misconduct to present to the court. Provided that they have such evidence, they can potentially remove the current trustee and replace them with someone more capable of filling the role at this time.