Replacing a trustee is, effectively, a transition of power, and can be daunting. In California, whether the trustee willfully resigns or you have to pursue California trust litigation, it is important to understand what to expect throughout.
Failure to prepare properly can result in a long, stressful, and expensive process that yields no results. And if you are in a situation involving a trustee’s breach of fiduciary duty in California, failure to remove the trustee compromises the trust and your inheritance.
At Gokal Law Group, we have dedicated years to helping beneficiaries remove unfit and malicious trustees and replace them with someone who will operate with integrity. Read on to learn how to replace a trustee.
When Should I Consider Removing and Replacing a Trustee?
Several situations can cause one to remove and replace a trustee. Still, regardless of your situation, you will need to brace yourself for California trust litigation and work with a premier attorney to navigate probate court.
Being unhappy or upset with the trustee is not enough to remove and replace a trustee. To remove and replace a trustee, you must provide a legal basis for removal. Common reasons to consider replacing a trustee include when the trustee:
- Passes away
- Fails to remain impartial
- Fails to adhere to trust terms
- Is subject to undue influence
- Neglects or mismanages trust assets
- Commits self-dealing
- Commits an abuse of discretion
- Commits fraud
- Fails to act, is unresponsive, or uncooperative
- Misappropriates of trust friends
- Is hostile towards beneficiaries
- Charges excessive fees and expenses
- Breaches their fiduciary duty (also called a breach of trust)
- Is unfit or insolvent
- Demonstrates a conflict of interest
Why Should I Consider Removing and Replacing a Trustee?
A breach of trustee duties is a severe offense that can have repercussions that span generations. As a result, failure to act jeopardizes the trust, your inheritance, and the legacy of the person who left it behind.
Also, per California trust law, there is a statute of limitations on when you can remove them, and if you miss this window, you will be barred from pursuing litigation.
How Can I Remove and Replace a Trustee?
If you think that removing and replacing a trustee is your only option, then working with a trust lawyer in Orange County is essential because the judge will want to see proper evidence that is admissible in court, which can come in the form of documents or testimony.
Gathering requires depositions, expert witnesses, interrogatories, witness interviews, subpoenaed documents, and evidence presented following the Rules of Evidence. An expert trust dispute lawyer will help you navigate this complicated process.
This process requires filing a petition to remove the trustee. This petition can only be filed by interested parties or parties detailed in the trust document, such as a beneficiary. A lawyer will also file a petition for a Formal Account and an order allowing discovery to obtain evidence.
If your trustee does not change their behavior and remedy the damage they caused, there will be a hearing. If your evidence provides grounds for removal, then the judge can remove and replace them and even surcharge the trustee for damages.
Also, trustees can sometimes step down willingly, which eases this process. Regardless, we advise always consulting with a California trust litigation lawyer before you pursue trustee removal and, ultimately, replacement as this can be a long and expensive process.
“After removing the trustee, replacing them is a separate process. Generally, only the person authorized by the trust to appoint a replacement can choose who will be replacing a trustee. In these situations, it is important to communicate honestly with all interested parties and the person who has this authority to ensure the replacement is fit for the job.” – Ronald V. Larson, a partner and Orange County trust lawyer at Gokal Law Group with nearly 30 years of litigation experience
Premier Trust Litigation Lawyers in Orange County
If replacing a trustee is necessary, the margin for error is slim. To pursue California trust litigation and succeed, you must navigate strict rules, and failure to do so can destroy your case. Working with a trust dispute lawyer is of the utmost importance to protect the trust, your inheritance, and the legacy of the person who left it behind from an unfit trustee.
Visit our Contact Page and schedule a case evaluation to protect your inheritance from an unfit or malicious trustee. When the stakes are raised, trust us to guard your trust.