If the beneficiaries of a Trust feel that the trustee is not acting in their best interests, what can they do?

My grandfather and grandmother created an irrevocable Trust. My grandmother would receive a monthly allowance but she has recently passed away. My father and his brothers are beneficiaries of the Trust and yet they have not received any accounting of the Trust’s operations or any of its details. My grandfather no longer resides in the U.S. and the trustee is a woman that we (the family) know as his “friend”. The beneficiaries feel that the trustee is not acting in their best interest but in the best interest of herself and grandfather (settlor). What can we do as beneficiaries?

Asked on February 2, 2016 under Estate Planning, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If the Trust provisions include procedures for removal of the trustee and appointment of a successor, those provisions should be followed.
If the Trust does not include provisions for removal of the trustee, the beneficiaries can petition the court for removal of the trustee and appointment of a successor trustee.
If the trustee has breached a duty owed to the Trust such as loyalty/avoiding a conflict of interest, not making the Trust productive by prudent investments,  self-dealing is prohibited, etc. (these are only a few examples of the duties the trustee owes to the Trust and are grounds for having a court remove the trustee and appoint a successor).  Failure to provide a requested accounting would be another argument to assert for removal of the trustee and appointment of a successor.

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