In California trust administrations, the trustee is in the driver’s seat. The trustee marshals the assets, deals with creditors, and (except in the case of ongoing trusts) gets them distributed out to the beneficiaries in fractional shares per the terms of the trust. But what happens when the trustee favors himself as a beneficiary, disfavors a family member he/she dislikes, or simply falls asleep at the wheel?
As illustrated by the Donald Sterling case recently discussed here, petitions to remove trustees are common in California trust litigation. Courts will suspend or remove trustees if the petitioner provides sufficient evidence that removal is necessary to protect the beneficiaries. This post will discuss trustee removal under California law from the beneficiary’s perspective. With apologies to The Sound of Music, “how do you solve a problem like trustee-a?”