Newport Beach Trustee Removal Lawyer

Newport Beach Trustee Removal Lawyer
Newport Beach Trustee Removal Lawyer

Newport Beach Trustee Removal Attorney

When you’re planning for your loved ones’ lives after you pass, it can be a wise choice to create a trust that specifically defines how you want your assets distributed. However, when you create a trust, you must assign a trustee to be responsible for it. When this trustee breaches their duty or causes disputes to arise, the creator of the trust and beneficiaries have the right to request their removal. Talk to our Newport Beach trustee removal lawyers to learn more about the process.

Working With the Right Trustee Removal Lawyer

At Ross Law Group, APC, our attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in trust, estate, and probate litigation. We have protected the rights of countless individuals during trustee removal proceedings and other probate matters. We know how to represent your interests and guide you through the process with compassionate support.

If you have reason to believe a trustee has breached their duty of care, good faith, or loyalty, it can be upsetting and unsettling. You need an attorney with knowledge of California probate, trust, and estate law to guide you through the process of trustee removal.

How Do Trusts Work in California?

A trust is a standard part of an estate plan that transfers assets and property to beneficiaries after a person’s death. Typically, an individual – the grantor – creates a trust before their death. In the trust, they outline how they will divide their applicable assets and property amongst their beneficiaries. Trusts provide:

  • Legal protection of the trustor’s assets or property
  • Efficiency
  • Reduction of paperwork and complex probate proceedings
  • Potential reduction of estate taxes

When creating a trust, the grantor will designate an individual, a corporation, or multiple parties as trustees. It is the trustee’s job to manage property for the benefit of the beneficiary or beneficiaries of the estate. The grantor sets out terms for the trustee to adhere to. If they break these rules, they may be removed from their position.

In cases where a trustee is not named before the grantor passes away, the trust goes to probate court to be handled by the legal system. This can often lead to complications.

What Does a Trustee Do?

In the simplest terms, a trustee is an individual or a company named by a grantor to manage the assets they put in a trust. This legal arrangement gives ownership and responsibility of the assets to the trustee, who is then in charge of protecting and distributing the property according to the grantor’s terms. Trustees are also known as fiduciaries. A fiduciary is simply someone who has a responsibility to act in ways that benefit another person.

Trustees must abide by the terms set up by the trust’s creator and the fiduciary terms that come with it. Being a fiduciary legally binds the trustee to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries. The general duties of a fiduciary include:

  • Duty of Care. The trustee must consider all available options before making decisions that will impact the beneficiaries.
  • Duty of Good Faith. The trustee must act in the best interests of the beneficiaries at all times.
  • Duty of Loyalty. The trustee cannot make any decisions that personally benefit them instead of the beneficiaries.

Trustees should have specific knowledge of law, finance, or real estate to manage assets and property held in the trust effectively. There is an obligation to ensure the beneficiaries gain the total value of their estate upon its transfer.

Avoiding Trustee Removal in California

The process of removing a trustee has the potential to be lengthy and expensive. Before arriving at a point of trustee removal, you should attempt to resolve complex disputes amicably. Alternatives such as mediation, arbitration, or other forms of dispute resolution exist to help trustees and beneficiaries reach agreements outside of the legal system. These alternatives are typically faster, cheaper, and less adversarial ways to achieve agreements with the trustee.

If you believe your dispute is only over one matter, like how to manage the assets, when to sell a house, or what a clause in the trust document means, it is wise to start with informal conversations attempting to settle the dispute before removing the trustee. If that doesn’t work, let attorneys look at all perspectives and weigh in on the appropriate solution before attempting trustee removal.

While it is advisable to contact an experienced attorney in the case of trustee removal, it may be wiser to contact an attorney as soon as disputes arise to set beneficiaries up for the optimal outcome. At Ross Law Group, APC, our attorneys have helped countless individuals resolve their issues before going to California courts.

Reasons You May Need to Remove a Trustee

Removing an untrustworthy trustee is crucial, as a trust provides essential support for the decedent’s loved ones after they pass away. When a trustee is faulty, this can negatively impact the lives of the beneficiaries and the assets held in the trust. Here are some common reasons you may need to remove a trustee from their position:

Failure to Comply With Trust Terms

Failing to comply with trust terms is one of the most common reasons for trustee removal. When creating a trust, the creator sets out terms that must be followed exactly by the trustee. The terms exist for the benefit of the beneficiaries. This means when a trustee breaches those duties, beneficiaries have the right to remove them.

Neglect, Mismanagement, or Misuse of Trust Assets

Whether through negligence or incompetence, if someone catches a trustee improperly managing trust assets by making poor investments, poor sales, poor purchases of assets, or other misuse, they have grounds to remove the trustee. These acts are a breach of fiduciary duty. Beneficiaries of the trust may petition for a trustee removal as a result.


Because trustees have broad powers of discretion when dealing with trust assets, they may sometimes make transactions for their own benefit. This is known as self-dealing and is unlawful in California. Using trust assets to benefit oneself financially instead of the beneficiaries of the trust is a conflict of interest. This act is grounds for removal by the probate court.

Although there are times when a trustee may not understand or know that they were participating in self-dealing, consulting an attorney if you suspect self-dealing is wise. When a large financial institution is a trustee and participates in a conflict of interest, the beneficiaries can sign conflict-of-interest waivers.

Good Cause

Removing a trustee for good cause is still an option when none of the other situations apply. Good cause means that, although vague, reasonable factors have led beneficiaries or other trustees to remove the applicable trustee. A common reason for good cause removal is if a trustee cannot perform their duties due to old age or mental state complications.

The probate court will consider your case’s details, and the bar is set high for proving good cause due to its vagueness. In these cases, you should consult an experienced trust attorney before taking this step.

Do I Need a Trustee Removal Lawyer in Newport Beach?

Like many areas of law, trust and estate law is complex and ever-changing. Navigating a trustee removal with an experienced Newport Beach lawyer is wise. There needs to be an appropriate reason to remove a trustee from a trust. Usually, the trustee has the right to use funds from the trust to challenge their removal, which can complicate matters. These situations can lead to a long legal battle that siphons money from the trust.

In certain situations, removing a trustee may be more straightforward, like when the trust’s creator is alive and approves the removal or the trust outlines removal terms. In cases where the trust’s grantor wants to remove their appointed trustee, this is easier than if a beneficiary tries to do the same. No matter your situation, you should always have an attorney on your side who can protect your rights and the trust in question.

How Do I Remove a Trustee From a Trust in California?

Removing a trustee in California is a complex process that requires time, effort, and due diligence. The removal timeline depends on the case’s complexity and court availability. Depending on these factors, the process can take several months to years before removal and replacement.

When entering the process of trustee removal, you should have a plan for the proper management of the trust assets and property. If necessary, a probate court may appoint a temporary trustee or issue specific orders to protect the assets held in the trust. Due to the complexity of the trustee removal process in Newport Beach, it is wise to speak with an attorney before you get started. If you’re looking to remove a trustee, you can take the following steps:

Review the Trust

To remove a trustee from a trust in California, you must review the document before beginning. Sometimes, the document includes specific instructions on how to remove and replace trustees. If there are instructions, you must understand and follow them to simplify the process.

The trust may provide detailed instructions on removing a trustee without court involvement, which may decrease the complexity of the process. However, court involvement is usually necessary to guarantee proper replacement.

Gather All Evidence

When attempting to remove a trustee, it’s vital to gather evidence that backs your claims for removal. Reasons that are allowed include:

  • Breach of trust
  • Inability or incapacity to perform one’s duties
  • Hostility or lack of cooperation among trustees that negatively impacts trust administration
  • Unwillingness or unavailability of the trustee

With evidence to back up any of the above reasons, it would be easier to have a court back the removal of the trustee. Evidence can include financial documents, correspondence or documentation of mismanagement, fraudulent statements, or documents showing the trustee’s incapacity.

Consult a Trust Attorney Today

After gathering evidence, it is wise to consult an attorney for guidance. The attorney can help explain your rights, grade your evidence, and suggest appropriate action.

Submit a Trustee Removal Petition

If your attorney believes you have the grounds to remove the trustee, you will need to file a petition with the appropriate California probate court. Your attorney can help walk you through the process.

The petition should clearly outline the reasons and evidence for the removal. After submission, you will schedule a hearing. Both sides will have an opportunity to present their case. If the court finds sufficient grounds to uphold the removal, they will issue the order to remove the trustee and replace them. If the trust document doesn’t name successors, the court has the power to appoint one.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid During the Trustee Removal Process

Although the information is available on how to prepare for and execute a successful trustee removal, mistakes are often made and can jeopardize the grantor’s estate. Examples of mistakes include:

  • Underestimating the complexity of trustee removal
  • Failing to gather suitable evidence
  • Ignoring, misunderstanding, or disregarding the trust document
  • Consulting with poor legal representation

If any of these mistakes occur, the trust removal process can fail and cost everyone money. Hiring representation who is well-versed in the California legal system and who will adequately represent you is beneficial. Contact our Newport Beach attorneys today if you need representation.

How Do I Resign as a Trustee in California?

Unless the trust complicates the process, resigning as a trustee in California is as simple as providing written notice to beneficiaries and co-trustees. When no succession pathway exists in the trust, a probate court might determine the process of appointing a successor. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible to resign as a trustee, talk to our lawyers about your rights.

Your Newport Beach Trustee Removal Attorneys

When you decide it is essential to remove a trustee from your trust, whether you are the grantor, co-trustee, or beneficiary, having an experienced trustee removal lawyer by your side is vital. If you are ready to begin the process of trustee removal in Newport Beach, contact Ross Law Group, APC, today to discuss your situation. We have intricate knowledge of estate planning and probate laws and can assist with a myriad of trust issues in California.

Practice Areas

Trust & Estate Litigation
Trust &
Estate Litigation


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