Reasons to consider firing your trustee

If you have a trust set up to protect your estate, then you almost certainly also have at least one trustee appointed to oversee that trust and manage the underlying assets that you chose to place in it. Unfortunately, trustees are all human and fallible, and may make choices that disappoint you or violate your good faith in them.

Should you find yourself displeased with the performance of your trustee, it is time to consider relieving him or her of their position. This choice does not have to take an ugly, personal turn for the worse, nor does it have to rely only on financial matters. A trustee has several responsibilities, but chief among them is carrying out your wishes and abiding by the guidelines you lay out for the trust and the estate it protects. If the trustee fails to meet your expectations, then you do not have to keep him or her in the position.

Your estate is one of the most important things that you have to manage, so it is important to manage it with wisdom and not with emotions. Often, a trustee is a close personal friend or relative who carries relational significance to you beyond the service. Be mindful to think about your overall goals for the trust and your expectations of your trustee as you consider whether or not to remove him or her from the post. Ultimately, you must make the choices that serve your long-term goals and protect your rights, even if it is not comfortable.

Is the trustee managing the assets poorly?

In some cases, a conflict with a trustee is not at all personal, but simply practical. Even if you have a good relationship with the trustee, if he or she does not handle the assets within the trust to your expectations, then you may need to consider another trustee simply for the sake of your estate. There is no sense in watching your estate's value crumble because of poor management, when more competent management could stabilize or increase the assets' value.

Is the trustee taking advantage of his or her power?

Serving as a trustee is a great responsibility because it grants a person power to enrich oneself unethically if he or she chooses to do so. A rock star who finds out that his or her manager has secretly blown through assets because of unchecked access and authority would almost certainly not keep that manager. Likewise, if you find that your trustee is not treating the position ethically and is self-dealing for his or her own benefit, you should remove the individual immediately.

Is the trustee in conflict with other parties?

Sometimes, a trustee causes complications to an estate because of personal conflicts. As humans, we are all capable of this to some degree, but that does not mean you should tolerate such behavior. A trustee should never allow personal interests or conflicts to affect his or her service of your trust, especially if the conflicts involve your beneficiaries.

Replacing a trustee is sometimes an essential part of maintaining your estate and protecting your rights and priorities. Don't hesitate to remove a trustee who does not truly serve your needs and interests.

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