What does it take to remove a trustee from a family trust?

While most grantors of a trust think long and hard about who should be their trustee, they may not always make the right choice. Some trustees do not take their duties seriously or take advantage of their fiduciary role. They may also butt heads with beneficiaries on other issues as well, so what does it take to remove a trustee from a family trust?

In most situations, beneficiaries can remove a trustee who is not doing his or her job. However, you will need to show that certain conditions have been met to warrant removal. A Texas wills and trusts lawyer can walk you through this process.

Power to Remove a Trustee

Generally, the trust itself should set out when it is appropriate to remove a trustee. The document may also describe how you go about the process as well. However, even when the trust document is silent on the issue, certain individuals may be able to remove the trustee through other means.

Those who have the power to remove a trustee often include:

  • The grantor (or creator) of the trust
  • The trust beneficiaries
  • Co-trustees
  • The probate court

The trustee can also voluntarily choose to leave his or her role as well.

Grounds for Removal

Trustees are required to follow state law and fulfill the terms of the trust document. They are expected to carry out certain general duties as well, such as being careful money managers and loyal to the beneficiaries and the trust itself.

When a trustee breaches a beneficiary’s trust or does not perform his or her duties correctly, the trustee can be removed. In Texas, a trustee can be removed for:

  • Incapacity or insolvency
  • Violations of the terms of the trust
  • Failure to make an accounting or report as required or requested by the beneficiaries
  • Self-dealing or stealing trust property
  • Hostility between the trustee and the beneficiaries

It is a good idea to reach out to the trustee to give him or her an opportunity to comply with the terms of the trust or any other deficiency. However, if asking nicely does not help, you may need to take additional action.

Taking Steps to Remove a Trustee

In most cases, you can look to the trust document to determine what steps you should take to have a trustee removed. If the trust document does not address whether you have the power to remove a trustee, you must petition the probate court to help you with this issue.

In addition to requesting removal, you may also be able to sue the trustee for any damage that he or she caused because of mismanagement of the trust. For example, if the trustee spent some of the trust assets, you can likely recover that money and place it back into the trust. Keep in mind, however, misdealing or dishonesty is not required to remove a trustee in Texas.

Dealing with Your Family Trust Trustee

If you are having problems getting along with your family trust’s trustee for any reason, speak with the Texas estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of Carey Thompson. We can help you determine whether you may have grounds for removal and what your next steps should be.