Can the Powers of the Successor Trustee Be Revoked?

By David Carnes

A successor trustee is a trustee who takes over management of a trust after the original trustee leaves office. He may be a party named in the trust deed, consented to by the trust grantor or beneficiaries, or appointed by a court. State laws provide several ways in which a successor trustee's powers can be revoked and the trustee removed from the position.

Trust Protectors

A successor trustee may be removed in accordance with the terms of removal set forth in the trust deed. Many trust deeds appoint a trust protector whose job it is to hire and fire trustees. The trust deed may specify permissible grounds for removal or allow removal at will. Accordingly, if you seek removal of a successor trustee, appeal to the trust protector -- if any -- to unilaterally remove the trustee.

Removal by Grantor

A trust may be revocable or irrevocable, depending on the terms of the trust deed. If the trust deed does not address the issue of revocability, different states apply different presumptions -- some states presume the trust deed is revocable while others presume it is irrevocable. If the grantor is dead, the trust is always irrevocable. If the trust is revocable, however, the grantor may unilaterally amend its terms to remove the successor trustee and appoint a new one.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Removal by Beneficiaries

If the trust is irrevocable, it may contain a provision allowing the beneficiaries to unanimously agree to remove a successor trustee. It may also require the grantor's consent if he is still alive. Some trusts, however, provide for unborn or minor beneficiaries. Since unborn and minor children cannot consent to the removal of a successor trustee, the living adult beneficiaries may lack the power to remove the trustee even with unanimous consent. In this case, a court order may be required to clarify the issue under state law.

Removal by Court Order

If the trustee cannot be removed under the terms of the trust deed, a court order may be required to remove the successor trustee. A court will not remove a successor trustee simply because the beneficiaries do not like him. He must have committed acts of misconduct or the court determined removal would best effectuate the original intentions of the trust grantor with regard to the disposition of trust assets.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How Do You Remove the Executor of a Living Trust?

References

Related articles

How to Break an Irrevocable Trust

Two types of trusts are possible: a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust. Although the grantor can unilaterally revoke a revocable trust, even a revocable trust becomes irrevocable when the grantor dies. The assets of an irrevocable trust belong to the trust beneficiaries, not the grantor. Even an irrevocable trust can be revoked under certain circumstances, although it is almost impossible for a creditor of the grantor or a beneficiary to revoke it. Although the trust laws of the various states differ on the grounds and procedures for revocation, they are all based on similar principles.

Facts on Living Trusts in Pennsylvania

A living trust allows you to place assets under the care of a trustee who then distributes them to your beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes. A living trust, in contrast with a testamentary trust, comes into existence while you are still alive. Pennsylvania's trust law is based on the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act.

How to Terminate an Irrevocable Trust

With a trust, you transfer assets to a legal entity set up to shelter your estate from the probate process. A trust allows you to control who will inherit your property after your death and give instructions to a trustee on how to manage that property. Although an irrevocable trust, in theory, cannot be changed or cancelled, there are ways to close down the trust and, if you wish, transfer assets to a new one. If the trust no longer serves the purpose for which it was set up, you may revoke it or draw up amendments that substantially change its terms. In most cases, this process will be subject to review by the courts to ensure that the beneficiaries retain the rights they were granted in the original trust.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Can I Change a Successor Trustee Without a Lawyer?

A successor trustee of a trust is the party appointed to replace the trustee named in the original trust deed. There ...

How to Change the Trustee of an Irrevocable Trust

A trust is a legal device that allows you to place your assets under the care of a trustee for eventual distribution to ...

Removing a Successor Trustee

A successor trustee is a person or entity who administers a trust after its original trustee dies or is incapacitated. ...

What Can a Beneficiary Do If the Trustee Refuses to Deal?

The trustee of a trust is required to act as a legal fiduciary on behalf of trust beneficiaries. If the trustee refuses ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED