California Trustee Defense

Are beneficiaries trying to remove you as the trustee? Are they seeking damages against you personally?

Beneficiaries are not always easy to work with. Stepchildren, estranged or jealous siblings, as well as those who were dependent on the settlor can be the most difficult to please. If you are a trustee of a trust and have been accused of mishandling the trust, failing to disclose, mismanagement, misappropriation, self-dealing, embezzlement, failing to account, then it is extremely important to obtain experienced legal help immediately. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to defend the trust and that includes defending their position as trustee. 

Some people fall into the role of trustee without being fully prepared for the experience. Even those who eagerly accept the responsibilities that come with being a trustee may not be aware that beneficiaries can sometimes be problematic. In fact, beneficiaries may be cause difficulties and even threaten removal of or seek personal damages from the trustee. It is certainly not unheard of for beneficiaries to become angry at trustees, causing legal trouble.

The California-based trustee defense lawyers at The Legacy Lawyers understand the challenges related to being a fiduciary like a trustee. Our knowledgeable team of attorneys has helped trustees successfully battle legal issues, including some where trustees made missteps or were negligent in their duties. Having legal counsel on retainer can be a valuable support for any trustee dealing with unhappy beneficiaries. If you’re worried about costs, don’t. California law is clear. Trustees have the right to use trust funds to hire attorneys to help them administer the trust.  

Top Reasons Why Beneficiaries Ask for a Trustee’s Removal

What’s involved in a trustee removal process?

Most trustee removal petitions include requests for orders for accountings, financial surcharges, and attorney fees against trustees personally. The petitioners may also seek remedies for breach of trust, including relief for various types of damages. Since losing could be extremely expensive, you do not want to take on these types of matters without competent legal counsel.

What to Expect When Working With the Legacy Lawyers

At The Legacy Lawyers, we fight diligently on behalf of our trustee clients. Even if the trustee has made mistakes, we work hard to help them keep their fiduciary duties and fight off aggressive beneficiaries. Our goal is to make what can be a stressful situation much easier to manage, whether that means going to court or trying to settle.

During the initial free consultation, one of our lawyers will want to understand the full picture of why the trustee is at risk of removal. As a result, trustees should bring a copy of the trust document as well as other pertinent paperwork to the meeting. That way, an attorney can more thoroughly assess the case and make recommendations. Trustees are encouraged to be 100% honest during the private discussion. That way, the lawyer understands exactly how to best provide assistance.

Giving Trustees Personal Care and Commitment

If you are a trustee and are dealing with problems related to accusatory beneficiaries, you do not have to navigate the courts yourself. Instead, choose to work with The Legacy Lawyers. Call any of our southern California offices at (800) 840-1998 to start a conversation about your concerns. Our skilled trustee defense attorneys are eager to learn more about your situation and potentially defend you against your charges.  

Beneficiaries may try to get a trustee removed, or may sue the trustee, for a number of reasons. Some of the more common reasons include:

  • The beneficiaries claim that the trustee has not followed through with his or her fiduciary responsibilities, such as sending timely statements regarding the trust.
  • The beneficiaries believe the trustee is not acting objectively toward one or more beneficiary. In other words, the beneficiaries claim the trustee is treating some beneficiaries with more regard than others.
  • The beneficiaries allege the trustee is misappropriating funds or spending more of the trust than is necessary.
  • The beneficiaries feel as if they are in the dark about the trust due to consistently poor communications between them and the trustee.
  • The beneficiaries do not believe the trustee has the mental capabilities to fulfill his or her role. 
  • The beneficiaries claim that the trustee is making considerable errors.
  • The beneficiaries alleged that the trustee is not making the required accountings to trust-related documents and accounts. 

Any trustee who has received notice of a removal petition against him or her should seek immediate counsel because this is a serious charge. Without the help of a competent trust defense lawyer, the trustee is at risk of being removed as a trustee. He or she may also incur exorbitant expenses as a result of waiting too long to talk with an attorney. For example, trustees who lose in court may have to pay damages. Consequently, all trustees under investigation should contact lawyers as soon as they can.

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