Do you have grounds to challenge a trustee named by a loved one?

| Jul 10, 2020 | Probate Litigation

If you are the beneficiary of a trust, you might have access to physical or financial assets that could benefit you for the rest of your life. Your loved one who created the trust likely took great pains to protect certain assets for the benefit of you and possibly other beneficiaries. With proper management, those assets could help you for years to come.

However, your access to and use of those assets will largely be under the control of the trustee named by your loved one who created the trust. A trustee oversees the administration of a trust and controls when beneficiaries can access and use the assets within a trust. They may also manage the assets in order to protect the value of the trust itself.

A trustee fulfills a critical role by helping safeguard assets and carry out the wishes of the trust’s benefactor. Sadly, not everyone who serves as a trustee does their job appropriately. When could you potentially challenge a trustee?

Incompetence and lack of action are grounds for action

Sometimes, the person named as the trustee doesn’t have the time to do all the necessary work required with trust administration. They could have a demanding home life or a very busy job that keeps them from dedicating an appropriate amount of time to maintaining the assets and fulfilling their duties.

Other times, they may have plenty of time but lack the organization or skill necessary to maintain complex assets and analyze requests for disbursement. If you can prove the history of inaction or questionable decision-making on part of the trustee, you may be able to bring a challenge against them in court.

Breach of fiduciary duty is also grounds for action

A trustee has a very high level of duty to the trust and its beneficiaries. They have a fiduciary duty, which means that they must put the needs of the trust before their own wishes and needs. If you can show that a trustee has made decisions for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of the trust and its beneficiaries, that could also be grounds to challenge their role as trustee.

Challenging a trustee will not end the trust. Instead, if the courts agree with the challenge, it will typically result in someone else assuming the responsibility of the trustee.