You can remove an unreliable trustee from a will

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2018 | Firm News

If you suspect a trustee is abusing their financial power over an estate, you can take legal action to remove them.

An estate is often a large, complicated gift a loved one leaves after their death. Its official distribution can take years, if not decades. If you suspect that a trustee is breaching your deceased loved one’s trust, you can take legal action to prevent them from making any further irresponsible decisions.

A trustee’s responsibilities

In the state of Texas, a trustee’s “fiduciary duties” are not defined explicitly, nor are the rules to replace them. However, common law and good faith clauses separate their responsibilities into four major categories.

  • Duty of Loyalty
  • Duty of Full Disclosure
  • Duty to Exercise Reasonable Discretion
  • Duty to Competently Administer the Trust

If the trustee fails in any of these duties, they are liable to formal complaints from the estate’s beneficiaries. A trustee must be transparent in this process and never contrary to the wishes of the estate.

However, just as the law maintains a beneficiary’s right to inherit, there is also language in many estate plans to protect trustees from beneficiaries who attempt to overtake them. It can be a complex issue best handled by an attorney.

Look out for these violations

If a trustee does not fulfill any of the following legal obligations, they may be liable to be removed:

  1. Failure to provide statement of trust assets, expenditures, and receipts to beneficiaries
  2. Failure to provide an annual formal accounting, reporting trust activity and trust assets
  3. Theft from the trust
  4. Seemingly overwhelmed, incapable of paying creditors and other management duties
  5. The trustee is medically incapable of performing their duties
  6. Openly hostile towards beneficiaries

What you can do

If you are a beneficiary of the estate in question, alone or with other beneficiaries, you can file a lawsuit against the trustee for a breach of fiduciary trust. Probate court will handle the case and may remove the trustee, replace the trustee, redistribute assets or any other number of outcomes it deems fair.

Removing a trustee is a complicated legal matter and it is always best to seek legal advice.