Absent a court order, a person cannot be compelled to act as a trustee. Even if a person accepts the position of trustee, unforeseen circumstances may prevent that person from carrying out the duties of trustee. Trust documents almost always address the issue of a trustee’s resignation. Absent an express resignation provision, consult with an attorney to determine your resignation rights under state law. In most cases, a written resignation letter delivered to the next trustee listed in the trust and to the person who created the trust is required.
Locate the language in the trust document that addresses the resignation of a trustee. Some trusts provide that the trustee must give notice of the resignation to the person who created the trust.
Locate the language in the trust document that specifies who will serve as trustee if you are unwilling or unable to do so. This person is often referred to as a “successor trustee.”
Prepare a resignation letter that identifies the trust, states that you are the currently acting trustee, and that you are resigning under the specific section of the trust that addresses the resignation of a trustee. For example, a resignation letter might read as follows: “I, John Smith, currently acting trustee of the Mary Jones Trust, hereby resign as trustee under paragraph VII(b) of the Mary Jones Trust.”
Date and sign the resignation letter before a notary public.
Deliver a copy of the resignation letter to the person who created the trust if that person is alive and if the trust document so requires.
Deliver a copy of the resignation letter to the successor trustee.