When is the right time to switch or change a trustee?

On occasion, our probate attorney may receive a call from a client asking if a trustee can be changed or removed in Los Angeles. Here are some of the factors that we evaluate before we change or remove a trustee.

California Probate Code 15642  

“(a) A trustee may be removed in accordance with the trust instrument, by the court on its own motion, or on the petition of a settlor, cotrustee, or beneficiary under Section 17200.

(b) The grounds for removal of a trustee by the court include the following:

Is the change for good cause? Your first question should be whether or not the grounds for removal or change of a trustee exist. California Probate Code provides the following grounds for a change or removal of a trustee and you must answer the following questions first:

  1. Has the trustee has committed a breach of the trust?
  2. Is the trustee insolvent or otherwise unfit to administer the trust?
  3. Is there hostility or lack of cooperation among co-trustees which impairs the administration of the trust?
  4. Has the trustee failed to act or declined to act?
  5. Is the trustee’s compensation excessive?
  6. Is the sole trustee a disqualified person under PC 21350?
  7. Is the trustee is substantially unable to resist fraud or undue influence? When the trustee holds the power to revoke the trust, substantial inability to resist fraud or undue influence may not be proved solely by isolated incidents of negligence or improvidence.
  8. For other good cause.

What does the trust say about removal of the trustee or a change to a different trustee?

It is very important to determine what the trust says about removal and replacement of the trustee. The trust may have specified reasons and methods for changing or removal of the trustee.

Is the prior named trustee incapacitated?

If the named trustee is unable to manage the assets of the trust, the issue of switching the trustee can be explored. Note that the law states that occasional or isolated negligence is not the standard for the removal.

Does the named trustee refuse to act?

What evidence do you have to show that the trustee has refused to act? This information comes in by testimony of individuals or by documentary evidence.

What remedies are available, if you cannot change the trustee?

If the removal or switching the trustee is too risky, you may want to explore a petition for instructions as a means to get the court to order the trustee to act in a particular way.

There are times when the court is not inclined to change the trustee, but may suspend the trustee for a temporary period and appoint a professional fiduciary to act as a temporary trustee or trustee ad litem pending a litigation between to other parties. Talk to us about how to appoint a private trustee in Los Aneles

What are the risks in changing or removing the existing trustee?

If you attempt to remove a trustee without good cause, you will not only incur your own attorney’s fees, but you may end up paying the attorney’s fees of the other side.

Call Mina Sirkin, trust attorney in Los Angeles to determine your rights to switch a trustee. Call 818.340.4479 . #90064

Trustee Removal Attorneys in Los Angeles, CA 90064

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