Removing a Trustee from a Revocable Trust and the Steps!

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Removing a Trustee from a Revocable Trust

How to Remove a Trustee from a Revocable Trust

Trustee Removal is an option for beneficiaries or heirs who feels the Trustee has either threatened or has taken action against the terms of the Trust. One reason is self-dealing, as opposed to having the best interests of the beneficiaries. A beneficiary will usually find counsel due to the complexity of the nature of removing a Trustee. 

How to Remove a Trustee from a Family Trust

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Trustee Removal is an option for beneficiaries or heirs who feels the Trustee has either threatened or has taken action against the terms of the Trust. One reason is self-dealing, as opposed to having the best interests of the beneficiaries. A beneficiary will usually find counsel due to the complexity of the nature of removing a Trustee. 

Note: Judges take trustee removal very seriously, thus having all your evidence, expert witnesses such as accountants, subpoenaed documents, etc., is crucial. Therefore, proper procedures are necessary to convince the judge that it’s worth the time and effort to remove the Trustee. 

One factor to remove a Trustee is based on conflicts. For example, if there are a Trustee and Co-Trustee and cannot get along, the beneficiaries can petition the courts to remove one or both. When removing a trustee, there has to be a threat or actual irreparable damages to the Trust. Such actions can be a misappropriation of trust funds, embezzlement, and lack of transparency.

Reasons for Trustee removal?

The list for removing a Trustee from a Trust is as follows:

  1. Self-dealing is when a Trustee puts their interest in front of the beneficiaries, e.g., self-dealing, and is a reason for removal.
  2. Misappropriation of trust funds: When a Trustee, for example, borrowers from the Trust, and fully expects to pay it back, the misuse of the Trust can be grounds for removal. Cannot use the Trust as a piggybank.
  3. Hostility toward Beneficiaries: When the Trustee cannot get along, its best for the Trust to have a Trustee who is fully transparent and not allow hostility to enter into the administration process.
  4. Conflict of Interest: If the Trustee sells an asset from the estate and found it was sold under-market to a friend or themselves, for example, one can show there was a conflict of interest.
  5. Failure to comply with Trust terms: As a beneficiary, you can receive a copy of the Trust. If it’s evident that the Trustee is failing to act in the wishes of the grantor/trustor or on time, a beneficiary can petition the courts of trustee removal.

Please note, it’s all about staying transparent and living up to their fiduciary duty. Once you discover any wrongdoing, you can petition to force the Trustee to file a Formal Account. 

You will need to have a valid reason with supporting evidence before even attempting to remove a trustee from a revocable trust.  

If you live in California and are considering removing the Trustee, you have to make sure you are on the right side of the courts. What does this mean? It means that as a beneficiary or heir, you understand the process of a Trust administration process, allowing the Trustee to respond within a reasonable time frame. To petition to remove a Trustee must be based on a breach of fiduciary duty.

With that said, 

WHEN CAN I CONTEST A TRUST IN CALIFORNIA?

You see, when the settlor/ grantor is alive, the Trust is “revocable,” meaning it can be changed anytime as long as the settlor/grantor is still living. Once the settlor/ grantor dies, then the trust instrument becomes irrevocable straight away, and no changes can be made to the Trust. It’s at this point where you need to begin gathering the evidence as there are statutes of limitations. At this time, a successor trustee enters into the picture to manage the estate.  

The successor trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries to keep abreast of all changes, including receiving a copy of the Trust. Note: There are many time limits. Therefore, consult an estate planning attorney for the best outcome.

There are times when a Trustor was married and later divorced and has a Trust. Then, the trustor remarries and creates another Trust and takes into consideration his/her “blended family.” The question arises, which is the primary document, and this is the bone of contention. 

Takeaway: Many times, there is an “in Terrorem” clause, which states that anyone who contests the Trust can be eliminated from the Trust moving forward.

Here at Hess-Verdon, we counsel clients on various aspects of estate disputes. Such as investigating potential claims, evaluating the merits of bringing a claim, filing or defending a claim, and when necessary litigating a claim through trial or settlement.

With our expert team of trust litigators, in many instances, we can settle such proceedings without going to trial after taking into account the merits of the positions advanced by the respective parties and the tax rules applicable.  

Rest assured, the Hess-Verdon team is here to help you. Unlike some other law firms, we are a full-service firm. Handling thousands of probate and trust litigation cases helps us know exactly steps are crucial for your situation.

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File a Lawsuit to Recover Assets

As an Executor or Trustee, one fiduciary duty is to protect from the theft of estate assets. Therefore, you may have to obtain a court order from the probate judge to have missing items returned from a sibling stealing from the Trust.

If you have sufficient documentation or testimony, and the assets have not been returned, you will need to seek counsel from a Trust & Estate Litigation Attorney

What Happens when the Executor or Trustee is Stealing from the Estate?

When a Trustee is stealing from a Trust, i.e., possibly forged documents, you must act within 120 days after the Trustee gives a beneficiary notice under probate court section 16061.7. Once the mailing the announcement, the clock starts from there. If the notification is never sent, then the statutes of limitations to contest the Trust remains open indefinitely. Take note that you have 120 days to review all documents and challenge the Trust or Will if there is a disagreement with any documents, amendments, etc. Fraud and forgery are forms of stealing where people call and say, “my brother cheated me out of my inheritance.” Don’t allow yourself to be the person who says, “my inheritance was stolen.” You are against a time table to act! Find a Trust litigation attorney who has in-depth knowledge and help you contest the matter.

Take away:  You as a beneficiary still have your right intact if you find any misappropriation of trust funds. If there is stealing from an Executor or Trustee, the 120 days rule does not apply. If, however, the “stealing” occurred through forging of documents, and you were given notice yet did not act, you are unable to contest the Trust. 

Trustee Removal

Are you a Trustee or Beneficiary where protection of the Trustors wishes are being challenged and causing family disputes?

Develop strategies on preempting a Trust dispute and discover What You Need to Know About the Trustee Removal Process

Hess Verdon has a deep bench and knows both sides of the equation to remove or suspend a Trustee or to safeguard the Trustee from a frivolous legal process. Hess-Verdon top litigators will help you stay on track!

 

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Beneficiary is attacking me

Attacked by a beneficiary who objects to how you, a Trustee, or Administrator, is handling an estate?

Prevent Trustees from Making Some Common Mistakes. 

Duties | Delays | Choices | Distributions

Timing on each one is critical to avoid litigation

Hess-Verdon has over 30 years of dealing with Beneficiary and trustee disputes. Let us review your situation. You’ll be glad you did. Contact us for a No Charge, No-Obligation Consultation.

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Contesting a Trust

 Are You Considering Contesting a Trust or the most recent amendment? Was there a capacity issue or undue influence?

Be Careful when contesting a trust and know the elements it takes to protect the trust assets. Reserve your rights before Statute of limitations happen!

Hess-Verdon works hard to resolve Trust and Estate issues and preserve the estate by minimizing costly litigation. Contact us for a No Charge, No-Obligation Consultation.

 

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Hess-Verdon & Associates will Guide You through the Trust Administration Process!

Choosing the Right Trust Estate Litigation Lawyer is Crucial

Searching for an Orange County Trust Litigation attorney?  Hess-Verdon & Associates is one of the most knowledgable and most sophisticated trusts and estate law firm in the state of California at both the trial and appellate levels.

Our legal team of Trust Attorneys in Orange County, are well versed in estate planning, trust administration, and trust litigation.

Our viewpoint is the following:  Aggressive legal representation with a team of experts that protect you, our preferred client, with current tax and estate planning strategies.

Our litigation team has spent years acquiring extensive experience in trial preparation, strategy, and trial presentation to help you with your specific case. 

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs, our qualifications, staffing approaches, and rate structures with a view toward the successful resolution of Estateand trust-related matters.

Learn more about our Living Trust Attorneys.

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What Is Trust Litigation?

Trust litigation is where a Beneficiary or Trustee or even an heir of a Trust feel their legal rights are trampled upon and need legal counsel to represent them in court. Typically the trust litigation is between the Trustee vs. the Beneficiary/heir. Many issues can arise, and mostly due to transparency, i.e., the beneficiary feels the Trustee may be self-dealing. Self-dealing is where the Trustee puts their needs and wants before the Beneficiaries. Now, the Trustee knows they have the fiduciary duty to put everyone above their self-interest first and to comply with the wishes of the Trustor. 

Now, after legal discovery, both parties will be asked to do the following:

  • Mediate
  • Arbitrate
  • Litigate

Trust litigation is by far the most costly and can drain the estate assets. If you are a Trustee and or Beneficiary, best to keep communication open at all times with proper bookkeeping.  

Schedule an appointment today. Our specialized team is ready to assist you.

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Our knowledgeable and aggressive actions are necessary to ensure the trustor maintains their wishes on how the estate should be administered.

What are some common trust disputes: 

When we meet with clients, we will discuss Trust disputes as well and how to avoid them. Our team of attorneys will cover the beneficiary perspective and Trustee(s)’ aspect and the steps for both parties.

A Person may Bring a Cause of Action for the Following Reasons:

  • Trust Contests
  • Disputes involving interpretation of sophisticated estate plans
  • Disputes in Probate Court
  • Discussions regarding Trust Administration
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims and Ethical Concerns
  • Undue Influence and Elder Financial Abuse Claims
  • Business and Asset Valuation Disputes
  • Contested Conservatorships
  • Professional negligence and breach of duty defense for fiduciaries;
  • Petitions to include omitted assets into the trust (Heggstad Petitions);
  • Probate Code § 11700 proceedings to determine inheritance rights;
  • Property and entitlement disputes;
  • Recovery of lost, excluded, and disputed property (Probate Code § 850).
  • Trust Accounting disputes
  • Kinship proceedings
  • Surviving spouse’s right of election
  • Fiduciary litigation and removal proceedings
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My Family is Suing me

Are you being sued by a family member over a Trust or Will?

From threats to harassment to emotional distress, many people’s knee-jerk reaction is to sue and has become increasingly common. 

There are many options to resolve a family dispute in court and out of court. 

With over 30 years, Hess-Verdon has handled Trust and Estate Lawsuits and dealing with family dynamics. Do not panic; Hess-Verdon is ready to help you today.

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Trustee Delaying my Inheritance

Past the reasonable “time period,” and Trustee has yet to make the required distributions?

Diagnose the stalling tactics from an uncooperative Trustee and UNCOVER Steps to Take to Get the Trustee to Distribute Your Inheritance.

Hess-Verdon, for over 30 years, has worked on both sides of the coin. Receive counsel on staying on the right side of the courts. Seeing thousands of problems facing Trustees and Beneficiaries has allowed us to assist and complete the wishes of the Trustor/Executor. Contact us for a No Charge, No-Obligation Consultation.

  

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Trustee Deadlines

Up against or even missed a deadline? Know which ones are upcoming?

Shore up your fiduciary responsibilities 

Conflict of Interest | Distribution of Funds | Upcoming deadlines

And put yourself back on track and avoid a trustee removal petition

Time is ticking, and seeking guidance from a Hess-Verdon Attorney is your attorney source to know protect your family’s legacy. Contact us for a No Charge, No-Obligation Consultation.

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Changed Trust Before Death

Was a Trust changed while under the care of a brother, sister, or institution and possibly been influenced?

 Act fast and attain a strategy on resolving fraud, forgery, undue influence, while protecting your rights and staying on the right side of the court.

 Hess-Verdon & Associates helps seek proper legal advice and provides you with the sound direction you need to understand what constitutes an invalid Trust or amendment. Contact us for a No Charge, No-Obligation Consultation.

 

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We are here to help!

Emotions Can Run High in Disputes Between Family Members, Especially in Matters Involving Money.

Need a Second Opinion?

Are you feeling your attorney is not answering your questions? 

Up against a deadline | Going over Budget | Case Taking too Long 

These are just a few reasons why you need a second opinion.

Hess-Verdon has a deep bench experience and works with the courts. If you have questions that your attorney is not answering, or the litigation has taken unexpected twists and turns, Hess-Verdon has handled Trust and Estate Lawsuits for over 30 years. Do not panic; Hess-Verdon is ready to help you today.

 

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Truly exceptional law firm! They provided concise, decisive legal assistance during unanticipated events during estate proceedings. They made a bad situation better. Our family will always be grateful. There is no one I would rather have than Hess-Verdon & Associates representing my family.

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Truly exceptional law firm! They provided concise, decisive legal assistance during unanticipated events during estate proceedings. They made a bad situation better. Our family will always be grateful. There is no one I would rather have than Hess-Verdon & Associates representing my family.

Wade Shannon

Client Since 2014

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“Definitely a firm that will “fight to the finish.”

Frances Gruben

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