Choosing a trustee is an extremely important decision that many Massachusetts residents put a lot of thought into. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, the trustee you initially appoint does always end up being your best advocate. But just because you aren't thrilled with something your trustee did, should you seek to have him or her removed?
First, it's important to know that removing a trustee is not as easy as having a conversation with that person and moving on. You have to petition the probate court in order to seek removal, so you must have a good reason for doing so. The following list includes several reasons why a trustee might be removed from his or her duties.
- The trustee mismanages the assets in the trust. This means that the trustee acts in such a way that wastes or devalues the assets in the trust. Negligence or incompetence are most often blamed in this scenario.
- The trustee is hostile toward the beneficiaries. If the trustee becomes impossible to work with, it may be time to seek a removal.
- The trustee violates the terms of the trust. The most important responsibility of being a trustee is carrying out the terms of the trust. Failing to do so may be grounds for removal.
- The trustee uses his or her power to benefit him or herself. This type of behavior is typically considered a breach of fiduciary duty because it usually means the trustee has mismanaged or neglected the trust in some way.
These four reasons for the removal of a trustee are among the most common, but what if your reason doesn't align with any of them? Fortunately, the court recognizes that there is now way list every single possible reason for removing a trustee. If you have good cause for wanting your trustee removed and provide sufficient evidence, a court may grant your petition.