Trustees have a duty to remain impartial and to administer the trust in a way that is wholly beneficial to the trustee and its beneficiaries. If your California trustee breaches his or her duty in any way, you have the option to relieve him or her from his or her role. Unfortunately, however, it is difficult to remove a trustee without just cause, unless, of course, the trustee manages your own trust. FindLaw details five grounds on which you can remove the trustee of a deceased’s or incapacitated loved one’s estate.
You may be able to remove a trustee if he or she fails to comply with the terms of the trust. When a person endows a person with the legal ownership and management of a trust, he or she also bestows upon that person the responsibility to act in the best interest of beneficiaries and to fulfill the terms of the trust. If an executor fails to abide by the terms set forth by the trust, beneficiaries may petition to relieve him or her from his or her duties.
Another reason for which you may be able to remove a trustee is that he or she is guilty of mismanaging or neglecting trust assets. The fiduciary has a legal obligation to manage trust assets in such a way that does not devalue or waste them. If an executor fails to uphold this obligation, the courts may view it as a breach of trust and negligence and relieve the trustee from his or her duties upon beneficiaries’ request.
You may also remove a trustee who is guilty of self-dealing. Self-dealing refers to the use of one’s power to use funds or assets placed in one’s care to one’s own benefit.
Unbeknownst to many, beneficiaries may also remove a trustee who exhibits hostile behavior toward them. If an executor’s behavior makes it difficult for you to communicate with him or her or is outright hostile, you may petition to have him or her removed from the position.
Finally, you may be able to petition for a trustee’s removal by simply citing “good cause.” These reasons fall outside of the aforementioned ones but are still based on sound thinking and rationale.