Having the right person manage a trust is critical to its success, and there may come a time when removing a trustee is necessary. Though it can be intimidating, understanding how to properly and legally remove a trustee can help make the process go more smoothly.
What is a Trustee?
A trustee is an individual or entity designated to manage, control and administer assets held in a trust. The duties of a trustee include managing assets, controlling how income is spent, and distributing funds to beneficiaries as directed by the terms of the trust agreement. Sometimes multiple trustees are associated with a single trust to ensure that all legal obligations are covered.
Reasons for Removing a Trustee from a Trust
Trustees should be impartial, competent, and transparent in their dealings with trust assets and beneficiaries. If you feel as though the trustee is not doing their job appropriately, here are some reasons for removing a trustee from a trust:
- Mismanagement or misuse of trust funds (either intentionally or negligently)
- Failing to follow the requirements of the trust
- Conflict between the trustee and beneficiaries
- Mental incapacity or illness
- Self-dealing (using trust assets for own benefit)
- Charging excessive fees for services
- Death of the Trustee
Can a Trustee Be Removed without Consent?
Yes, a trustee can be removed from a trust without consent in certain circumstances, some of which we’ve listed above. However, removing trustees without consent will vary depending on the terms and conditions specified in the trust document.
How to Remove a Trustee from a Trust
Revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts have slightly different guidelines for removing a trustee.
Remove a Trustee from a Revocable Trust
In a revocable trust, the grantor (the person who creates and funds the trust) can remove a trustee without permission from anyone else. To do so, they should formally notify the trustee that their services are no longer needed. The grantor can then name a new trustee.
Remove a Trustee from an Irrevocable Trust
In an irrevocable trust, the grantor typically does not have the power to remove a trustee without permission from other interested parties, such as co-trustees and beneficiaries. In these circumstances, any parties listed below can request that a trustee be removed by filing a petition with the probate court. In some cases, the court may require a hearing to determine if removal is necessary and in the best interest of all involved.
Who Can Remove a Trustee from a Trust?
A co-trustee: If there are multiple trustees associated with a trust, one or more of the trustees may be able to remove the trustee without permission from other interested parties.
A beneficiary: Beneficiaries have standing in a trust, meaning they can make formal requests to the court to have a trustee removed if necessary.
The probate court: The probate court has the authority to remove an unfit or unwilling trustee under certain circumstances. The court may require a hearing to determine if removal is necessary and in the best interest of all involved.
Do I Need an Attorney to Remove a Trustee from a Trust?
It is always advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney when considering removing a trustee from a trust. An attorney can help you review the terms of the trust document, determine whether removal is appropriate, and represent your case in court if necessary.
If you are considering removing a trustee from a trust or have questions about how to do so, contact McMillan Metro today. Our Estate Planning attorneys can help you understand the intricacies of the process and ensure that you meet the legal requirements for removing a trustee.