Trustees who oversee and manage family property are supposed to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries. Their conduct is held to high standards and monitored closely. If you are a trust beneficiary and feel the trustee is not fulfilling his or her fiduciary duty, you may be well advised to have them removed to avoid more problems further down the road.
Removing a trustee in Texas requires several criteria to be fulfilled:
- Violation of terms of trust agreement by the trustee endangering the financial standing of the trust.
- Incapacity or insolvency of the trustee.
- Trustee’s failure to make accounting required by the terms of the trust.
- Other reasons stated by the court including self-dealing (managing the fund to his or her benefit) or stealing trust property.
- Hostility between trustee and beneficiaries.
Removing a Trustee in Texas for Failure in Accounting Trust Activity
The documents that set up the trust should have a procedure in place that allows a beneficiary to replace a certain trustee under certain conditions. If there is no specific right to remove a trustee granted in the trust statement, a probate court will have to make the decision.
As a beneficiary, you have the right to request certain information from the trustee, including a statement of trust assets, expenditures and receipts. If the trustee does not provide the information he or she is legally obligated to, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the trustee.
The Texas Trust Code requires the trustee to provide an annual formal accounting in which all trust assets and trust activity must be reported, all disbursements and transactions must be laid out. If the trustee is unwilling to follow his obligation, the beneficiary has the right to enforcement in court.
Removing a Trustee for Mismanagement of Trust Assets
If the trustee’s performance managing the trust property endangers its value, you may be able to sue them for damages to the trust. Removing a trustee in Texas does not necessarily require his or her misdealings to be malicious or intentional, such as theft from the trust — though that is certainly grounds for removal.
If the appointed trustee is not experienced in managing an estate and becomes overwhelmed with the obligations of distributing assets, paying creditors and taxes, and other management duties, the results can be disastrous for the financial standing of the trust and can be grounds for removal.
Take Steps to Remove a Trustee
To remove a trustee, a petition must be filed in probate court and a hearing will be scheduled. After an incompetent trustee has been removed, a successor will need to be appointed to take his or her place.
A lawsuit for breach of fiduciary duty can have various outcomes, including removal and replacement of trustee, redistribution of property, or termination of the trust.
To ensure that you follow proper procedure in this often complex legal matter, contact the Houston trust attorneys at Ostrom Morris today!