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Taking legal action to remove a trustee

There are many benefits afforded to those individuals who choose to establish a trust for the benefit of surviving family members. In addition to avoiding a lengthy and costly probate process, individuals who set up a trust can also establish corresponding provisions that must be followed with regard to the distribution of trust assets.

Upon establishing a trust, an individual must also appoint a trustee to manage and ensure that any provisions related to the trust and its assets are followed. A trustee may be a single individual in whom the trust's grantor has faith or may be a bank or other third-party institution.

A trustee is considered a fiduciary, meaning that the individual or institution must always act and carry out activities that are in the best interest of the trust. For a beneficiary of a trust, the relationship with a trustee can become strained. In some cases, a beneficiary may take legal steps to remove a trustee.

There are several reasons why a beneficiary may choose to take action to remove a trustee. For example, say that the terms of a trust call for monthly cash distributions once a beneficiary turns age 18. In cases where a trustee fails to comply with these terms, it can be argued that the trustee should be removed.

Additionally, grounds for trustee removal also include cases where a beneficiary believes that a trustee failed to act in a fiduciary capacity. Say for example that a trustee is accused of mismanaging trust assets or using trust assets for personal gain. In either case, it's appropriate to take legal action to remove the trustee.

When it comes to a trustee's relationship with beneficiaries, there can be tension. In cases where personalities clash or where tensions and disputes mount, it's wise to consult with an attorney who handles estate planning litigation matters.

Source: FindLaw.com, "5 Reasons to Remove a Trustee From Your Trust," Brett Snider, Oct. 29, 2013

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