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The Process for Removing a Trustee in CA

When someone (called the settlor) establishes a trust, most of the time they will also work hard to find the right person to serve as the trustee. When deciding upon who is to be assigned as trustee, someone’s legal knowledge, financial experience, and trustworthiness are generally all taken into account. 

Even after taking the time to choose who is fit to be the best trustee, sometimes the person whom you choose turns out to be a poor choice. Whether they lack sound judgment or the financial wherewithal, sometimes a trustee should be removed from the position. Here’s what to know about the process of a removing a trustee in California. 

Filing a Motion

While some trusts have a procedure for how a trustee can be removed, some trustees refuse to abide by it. The most common way that the process for removing a trustee begins is when a settlor, co-trustee, or beneficiary file a motion. In order for the trustee to be removed from his or her position, the person who seeks their removal must by a preponderance of the evidence prove one for the following things:

  • The trustee violated a breach of the trust instrument
  • The trustee is unfit for the position
  • There is a hostility or lack of cooperation between co-trustees
  • The trustee has taken excessive compensation for working on the trust
  • The trustee failed to act in order to preserve the trust assets or maximize the associated income
  • The trustee is unable to carry out their duties
  • The trustee is unable to resist committing fraud or exercising undue influence
  • There is other good cause

What Are the Court’s Rights?

It’s important to note that the court is within its right to suspend a trustee’s powers or in some cases, transfer trust assets. Additionally, should the court find that someone filed a motion for the removal of a trustee in bad faith, the court has the right to order that party to pay all or part of the trustee’s legal fees. 

For good reason, it’s not too easy to remove a trustee, but rather requires a lot of evidence. Also, it’s rare that motions for removal are granted. 

Biddle Law Can Help 

It is extremely important that you understand when and how to protect your interests and those of your loved ones. Having a trustee who is qualified to do the job is key, but ridding your trust of one who isn’t is also essential. This is why it’s so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California estate planning attorney who knows the current laws and has experience dealing with such important estate planning documents. 

At Biddle Law, we are here to answer all of your questions and walk you through the entire process. We care about you and your loved ones and want to help in any way we can. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!