Estate planning issues and when a trustee can be removed

In California, a trustee is granted a significant amount of responsibility. The trustee is the legal owner of the assets in the trust and must oversee them according to the law. A fundamental aspect of the role is to behave in accordance with the fiduciary duties and act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. However, issues can arise and lead to the trustee’s removal. Understanding when a trustee can be removed and the process for doing so can be complex. Having legal assistance in these circumstances is important.

When and why a trustee can be removed

For a trustee to be removed, the court can do it by its own motion or when a beneficiary, co-trustee or settlor petitions for it. There are certain grounds for which a trustee can be removed. If there has been a breach of the trust and the trustee has not adhered to the legal responsibilities, he or she can be removed. A lack of solvency or unfitness to oversee the trust can warrant a removal. In some instances, there is a contentious relationship between the trustee in question and the co-trustees and it negatively impacts the trust and its management. This is justification for removal.

Trustees are required to act in certain ways. A failure or refusal to do so can result in the person’s removal. Trustees are compensated for their work, but it must be a fair amount. In situations where the compensation is considered excessive, it may be grounds for removal. Trustees who are deemed susceptible to fraud or undue influence can also be removed for that reason. The key to a trust is having a trustee who can effectively manage the trust and do so in a legal and aboveboard manner. If there are concerns that this is not being done as it should be under the law, it is critical to understand the available alternatives.

Legal help with addressing trustee problems

While most trustees will perform their duties as instructed and according to the law, misappropriation, misuse, egregious mistakes or other errors might make it necessary to remove the trustee. To address this or any other concern related to trusts and estate planning in California, having legal guidance and assistance can be a key factor in a successful outcome. With the financial and personal factors at stake, it is wise to act as soon as possible and contact an experienced legal professional.