How to remove a trustee in California

December 19, 2022 | Estate Planning, Negligence by a Trustee

How to remove a trustee in California

Every trust in California nominates a trustee. This person’s job is to manage the assets in the trust and act on behalf of the beneficiaries. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove a trustee from a trust due to their inability or unwillingness to fulfill their duties.

Removing a trustee in California

To begin the process of removing a trustee in estate litigation, you must first file a Petition for Removal of Trustee with the court that created the trust. The petition must include information such as why you are seeking the removal and any evidence supporting it. The court will then review the petition and decide whether or not to hold a hearing on the matter.

If the court decides to hold a hearing, the trustee and individual filing for their removal will present testimonies and evidence to the court. Based on the evidence presented, the judge will then decide whether to remove the trustee or not. If the court agrees that removal is appropriate, it will issue an order for the trustee’s removal. If not, the court will dismiss the petition.

Grounds for removing the trustee in California

California court respect and honors a grantor’s decision to have a particular trustee manage their assets for their loved ones. Therefore, for a judge to consider their removal, the petitioner must have a very compelling reason why their removal is necessary. Some of the most common grounds for removing a trustee that California courts might consider are:

  • The trustee has failed to properly manage the trust assets according to the terms of the trust.
  • The trustee has acted unethically or illegally while managing the trust.
  • The trustee is mentally incapacitated, physically unable or otherwise incapable of fulfilling their duties.
  • The trustee’s behavior towards beneficiaries is hostile and abusive.
  • A conflict of interest exists between the parties due to familial relationships or financial interests.

It is important to note that the people that can file a petition to remove a trustee in California are limited to the trust’s beneficiaries, their attorneys and the court. Trustees can also request their own removal if they have a valid reason for doing so.

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