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Principled Advocacy For Families And Individuals With Disabilities And The Professionals Who Serve Them

Can you remove a trustee from their role?

| Feb 25, 2021 | Estate Planning

There are a variety of reasons why individuals set up trusts. Many use them as an asset protection tool to avoid the probate process or minimize their tax obligations.

Countless others do so to preserve their loved one’s eligibility for government benefits such as Medicaid. Owners must appoint a trustee to manage their trust. The person whom you once thought was ideal for that role may turn out not to be. You’ll want to understand what rights you have to remove them from that role should you no longer find them ideal for it.

Where to look for guidance on how to remove a trustee

A trust owner must draft administration documents when first setting up a trust. Those instructions contain valuable information regarding the timing of distributions. They also outline the requirements that the trust owner or other interested parties must meet before attempting to deprive a trustee of their role.

Probate judges may decide on a trustee’s removal

There are some instances in which owners neglect to include a removal clause in the trust’s administration documents. Co-trustees, beneficiaries, owners or settlers all have a right to file a case in probate court requesting for a judge to remove a trustee in those instances.

Probate judges often consult the Uniform Trust Code (UTC), which lists lawful reasons for a trustee’s removal, to determine if interested parties have a valid reason for requesting the same in their case.

Valid reasons for a trustee’s removal

Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the trust owner and beneficiaries. Their failure to follow administration documents, engagement in any self-serving or mishandling of funds or provision of misinformation to beneficiaries may all warrant a trustee’s removal.

Interested parties may also have a valid case for removing a trustee from their role if they prove not to have the requisite knowledge to administer the trust adequately or if they fall ill.

How to proceed in removing a trustee

It can be challenging to understand the legal jargon that comprises trustee removal instructions in the trust’s administration documents. A trusts attorney will have the necessary experience in reading such documents and can help you interpret them. Your Chicago lawyer can then advise you on the steps you’ll want to take to remove your Illinois trustee.