People who create trusts usually appoint themselves as the trustees and someone else as the successor trustee. Problems usually arise when the original trustees are replaced by successor trustees. If for example your parents create a family trust and appoint themselves as trustees, they will need someone else to serve when they cannot do so themselves. When one spouse passes away or loses mental capacity, the other usually serves alone. When he or she passes away or loses mental capacity, the successor trustee, typically one of their children will take over. Unfortunately most trusts give their successor trustees too much power and discretion. They have complete and unfettered access to trust assets. Sometimes they take on a new personalities. Some of them have been known to ignore requests for copies of the trust and accountings. Soon all forms of communications break down and the waring begins.
Beneficiaries usually call and ask if there's anyway they can remove the successor trustee of their parents' trust. The short answer is yes. Below are 5 reasons to have a trustee removed:
1.) Refuses to deliver a copy of the trust as required;
2.) Fails to act pursuant to trust terms;
3.) Unable to act due to mental incapacity;
4.) Misappropriates trust assets; and
5.) Refuses to account for trust assets
This is not a complete list of causes for removal, but it does cover about 80 percent of the problems most beneficiaries experience when dealing with renegade trustees. The facts and circumstances of each case is unique, so please don't read too much into this list. If you are having difficulty with a trustee, consult with a competent probate litigator.