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Removing successor trustee of living trust

Riverside, CA |

What steps do we take to replace brother (successor trustee ) and replace with the Co trustee . He did not do his job . he has lost money from the estate, lied and kept everything from us . And now is in hiding . We dont even know what the house sold for . and even has not turned in some of the Life INS policies .

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Attorney answers 2


The first place to look for an answer to your question is the trust document itself. A properly drafted trust should address how to remove a trustee who is not doing his job. If the trust does not address a procedure to replace a failing trustee, you may need to file a motion with the court to have the current trustee removed and replaced.

Either way, I would recommend that you consult with an attorney to ensure that a removal/replacement is handled properly and any assets which are currently unaccounted for might be recovered.

All the best,


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Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.


A trustee may be removed for a number of reasons that amount to a breach of trust,i.e., failing to fulfill his or her duties: duty to account, duty of impartiality, duty to keep beneficairies reasonably informed of material facts. However, the issue as to whether the trustee can be removed for having caused the trust estate to lose money, will be driven by the terms of the trust.

Most living revocable trusts give the trustee broad discretion in making financial and investment decisions. Accordingly, losing money alone will probably not be sufficient to remove the trustee. Again, depending upon the terms of the trust, you will probably have to demonstrate that the trustee's financial or investment decision was lacking reasonable diligence and investigation. In any event, you will have to file a petition pursuant to Probate Code Section 17200 requesting that the court take jurisdiction over the trust and that the trustee be removed, surcharged and account.

Disclaimer: This communication does not creat an attorney-client relationship, and is not a recommendation, approval or suggestion that any specific legal course of action.