Aug 2015

Will a Court Ever Order a Trustee Removed from a Trust?

Reasons for Removing a Trustee from a Living Trust

A properly drafted living trust can be an excellent addition to a well-rounded estate plan. Part of the reason trusts have become popular is that they offer a great deal of flexibility. If you create a trust, you must appoint a trustee to administer the terms of your trust. A trustee must oversee property and assets held in the trust, as well as make sure they are properly distributed.

Whether a trust is a revocable or irrevocable trust, there may come a time when it is necessary to remove a trustee. If the living trust gives the beneficiaries the authority to remove a trustee, the beneficiaries can remove the trustee and appoint an alternative. Absent this power in the trust terms, however, the beneficiaries must petition the probate court to remove the trustee. The following are some of the most common reasons to remove a trustee:

Self-Dealing and Conflicts of Interest

The trustee’s primary obligation is to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and the living trust. Trustees who act to further their own interests may need to be removed. When a trustee puts his or her personal goals and interests before those of the beneficiaries, the court will likely intervene.

Failure to Abide by Living Trust Terms

The trust document itself gives the trustee specific instructions for fulfilling the trustee’s obligations to the living trust and the beneficiaries. If the trustee refuses or fails to adhere to these terms, the court may order the trustee removed.


The trustee should always act in a way that furthers the beneficiaries’ interests and maintains or grows the living trust’s property and assets. If the court determines that the trustee has acted negligently or has caused trust assets or property to lose value or deteriorate, the court may remove the trustee.

Good Cause

“Good cause” is a catch-all term that encompasses any other type of trustee behavior that is detrimental to the trust or the trust beneficiaries.

Springfield, Missouri Estate Planning Law Firm

Removing a trustee can be a complicated process. Call to discuss your options. At the Law Offices of Randy L. Smith, LLC, we help people create estate planning documents that provide peace of mind. Call today at (417) 841-2775 to speak to an experienced estate planning lawyer about your case.

This website has been prepared by The Law Office of Randy L. Smith, LLC for informational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.