How do I go about removing my sister as trustee of our late father’s Trust?

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How do I go about removing my sister as trustee of our late father’s Trust?

She is trustee over my deceased dad’s property. She has had the police escort me off the property twice. Yesterday, I was at my dad’s raking leaves outside, not in the house. She claims that since she is trustee she

owns the property and nobody but her is allowed on premises the grass was waste high I cut the grass she not doing anything with the property the Trust says that the property is to be sold and divided between the 3 children or 1 child can buy the other 2 out I would think all 3 children would have same rights to go on property. Am I wrong?

Asked on November 3, 2019 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You are wrong. As long as the property is in the trust, it belongs to the trust, not the people who are supposed to benefit under the trust. Since the trustee adminstrates or manages the trust, she can determine, on the trust's behalf, who can and cannot enter or use the property, the way the manager of a store or office can determine who can or cannot enter it, even though the manager is not herself the owner. So she does not own the property, but does manage it.
The above said, the trustee has a "fiduciary duty" to the beneficiaries: to follow the terms of the trust, to act for the beneficiaries' benefit, not her own, and to show reasonable care or diligence in carrying out her duties. If she fails to do this--for example, she lets the property deteriorate, reducing its value; or she fails to sell the property if the trust directs her to--she can removed as trustee. A beneficiary, such as yourself, who objects to what the trustee is doing can bring a kind of legal action called an action "for an accounting" to make the trustee "account" for how she has managed the trust to the court. If the court feels she is not doing as the trust instructs, or is benefitting herself at the expense of the beneficiaries, or is being careless, she can be removed and replaced. An attorney would be very helpful in bringing this kind of action, which is substantially more complex than, say, a small claims case.


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