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When can beneficiaries seek to remove a trustee?

Choosing someone to manage a trust is one of the most significant estate planning decisions you'll make. This is particularly true if you've set up a trust to provide for family members, both while you're still alive and after you're gone.

However, sometimes a trustee doesn't live up to your expectations. He or she may even end up mismanaging the funds in the trust or doing something illegal. The person who appointed the trustee may make the decision to remove him or her. So can beneficiaries of the trust under certain conditions.

One common reason for removing a trustee is if that person is shown to be "self-dealing." That's when trustees breach their fiduciary duty of managing the trust in order to use the funds for their own benefit. Trustees can also be removed if they simply do not manage the funds properly or fail to manage them at all, even if they don't benefit from the mismanagement.

Another common reason why trustees are removed is if they fail to abide by the terms of the trust. Trustees are expected to act in the beneficiaries' best interests.

Beneficiaries may also petition the court to remove trustees if they believe those trustees are hostile towards them. This may be the case if one family member is the trustee and the other family members don't believe that he or she is properly distributing the funds.

Beneficiaries need to show evidence to a court that a trustee should be removed. An experienced California estate planning attorney can provide guidance and help you present your case.

Source: FindLaw, "5 Reasons to Remove a Trustee From Your Trust," Brett Snider, Esq., accessed April 13, 2017

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