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Can a beneficiary fire or replace a trustee?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2023 | Estate And Trust Litigation |

In the world of estate management, a trustee might not handle the trust’s assets wisely or may lack transparency about the trust’s affairs. These issues could depend a lot on what the trust agreement says and what the specific situation is. But if a beneficiary thinks the trustee isn’t acting with their best interests in mind, they might have a chance to replace or even fire the trustee.

This possibility could depend on certain legalities, which might help you understand what this might mean for everyone involved.

Through the trust agreement

If the trust agreement says beneficiaries can remove or replace a trustee, they typically can do so following the steps outlined in the agreement. Often, replacing or ending a trustee’s role requires more than half of the beneficiaries to agree. If all beneficiaries agree, they can vote to change the trustee without needing to go to court.

By court order

On the other hand, a trust agreement might not allow the beneficiaries to remove or replace a trustee. In that case, they can try to convince the trustee to step down on their own. But if that doesn’t work, the beneficiaries can petition the court to remove or replace the trustee. The court will only grant the petition if there is a valid cause for removal, such as:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty
  • Conflict of interest
  • Mismanagement of trust assets
  • Failure to account

Trustees have a duty to keep beneficiaries informed, manage the trust’s assets well and act in the best interests of the beneficiaries. However, if the trustee fails to perform any of these duties, beneficiaries might find it hard to avoid taking legal action. So, a beneficiary may have the authority to replace or fire a trustee in California, depending on what the trust agreement says or the verdict of the court.

That’s why, as a beneficiary, it’s important for you to know your rights. This includes being able to hold trustees responsible and possibly replace them, which could help protect your best interests.