When someone sets up a trust for his or her beneficiaries, they expect the trustee to look after those beneficiaries’ interests. Usually, things go pretty much as planned.
Until they don’t.
Sometimes, a beneficiary of a trust (or all of them) may not get along well with the trustee. The beneficiary may feel that the trustee is difficult, not interested in his or her welfare, uncooperative or even mismanaging the trust’s funds. But is that sufficient reason to challenge the trustee in court and ask for a new one?
It might be. There are several different possible reasons to remove a trustee from his or her position. Ask yourself the following questions to see if you might have a case:
- Does the trustee fail to return your calls within a reasonable time frame?
- Is the trustee not distributing the funds according to the terms of the trust?
- Is the trustee not transparent about any investments or expenditures from the trust?
- Has the trustee made bad investments for the trust?
- Do you suspect that the trustee is “milking” the trust for personal gain?
- Have you had a total breakdown in communication with the trustee?
- Is there a personal hostility between you and the trustee for some reason?
Since the court considers the removal of a trustee to be a serious action, the issues that arise have to be serious and repeated (or likely to be), not just something that happened once or accidentally. If the personality conflicts are rooted in the trustee’s personal prejudices, that may definitely be a good cause to ask for a different trustee. After all, you definitely want someone who is dedicated to your best interest in charge of the trust.
If you’re uncertain what to do next about a dispute with a trustee, consider getting some experienced legal advice.