Fiduciaries that misappropriate trust assets or fail to comply with trust terms can create significant problems for an estate, as well as its beneficiaries. Because a trustee holds all assets of the estate, it is imperative that an inadequate fiduciary is removed. However, removing the individual endowed with the task of overseeing a trust requires special circumstances – and the assistance of an estate planning attorney.
Reasons That Constitute Fiduciary Removal
- Failure to comply with trust terms. A trustee has the legal ownership and management of all trust assets. These assets are held for the benefit of the heirs, and the trustee is obligated to act in the best interest of those heirs. If the trustee fails to act in the best interest of the heirs or blatantly ignores trust terms, beneficiaries can petition the court to remove them from their role.
- Mismanagement of trust assets. As an elected individual, the trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage all trust assets in a manner that ensures they are not wasted or devalued. If a trustee neglects that duty or purposely neglects their role, leading to a significant decline in trust assets, a petition for removal is valid.
- Using trust assets for their own benefit. A trustee who uses their control over trust assets to their own benefit breaches their fiduciary duty to the estate and its beneficiaries. This may lead to a prompt trustee removal by a probate court judge. Unfortunately, if the trustee is a financial institution, beneficiaries may be required to sign a “conflict of interest” waiver, which would allow the institution to legally self-deal in trust assets.
- The trustee shows clear hostility toward estate beneficiaries. A trustee must act in the best interests of the estate and cannot allow for a significant breakdown or continuing conflict with beneficiaries. If the trustee shows clear hostility toward beneficiaries or cannot work professionally with the estate’s beneficiaries, the trustee must be removed.
- Trust administration methods have led to a breakdown in beneficiary trust. Beneficiaries must trust the individual overseeing their assets. If the way in which the trust is administered has led to a breakdown of confidence in the trustee, leading to further hostility, the beneficiaries can petition for the trustee’s removal.
Hire Attorney Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. to Help with Your Trustee Removal Petition
Beneficiaries faced with the task of removing a trustee need to carefully consider their position. Even if there are adequate grounds for removal, they must consider the potential costs and consequences of doing so – especially if the trustee resists the petition. The Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. can assist you with your trustee removal. We will explore your options and if you have a valid reason, we will represent your petition to the court. Contact us online today to learn more, or call 516-605-0625 to schedule a consultation.