A thorough estate plan typically includes far more than just a Last Will and Testament. One of the most commonly included components in a well thought out estate plan is a trust agreement. A trust can accomplish numerous different types of estate planning goals and objectives given the various types of trusts that can be created. One common denominator all trusts have is that a Trustee must be appointed to oversee the day to day administration of the trust and to manage the trust assets. For one reason or another though you (or the beneficiaries) may one day with to get rid of the Trustee, leading to the question “Can a Trustee be removed?” The answer is “yes” under certain conditions, including:
• Breakdown of communication with beneficiaries – one of the primary duties of a Trustee is to communicate with the beneficiaries on all trust matters. A breakdown in communication, therefore, means the Trustee has failed to live up to that responsibility.
• Mismanagement of trust assets – ideally, a Trustee’s management of trust assets results in growth of those assets. If the opposite occurs, and assets are wasted or devalued, a Trustee can be removed.
• Good cause – this is a “catch all” category that may be used for other situations that may not be as common but that may be sufficient to convince a judge that trustee should be removed.
Who has the power to remove a Trustee depends on the terms of the trust agreement itself. Sometimes the beneficiaries are given the power to remove a Trustee. If not, it will likely be necessary to petition a court and ask for the Trustee to be removed. Once removed, the successor Trustee will take over unless none was named. In that case, the court will have to appoint a successor Trustee.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Trustees, or estate planning in general, contact the experienced New York estate planning attorneys at The Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.