Back to the Learning Center

By: Scott Grossman on July 24th, 2023

How do I remove a trustee in the California Probate Court?

If you haven't gotten a copy of the trust, there might be other problems in getting your inheritance. By the time you finish reading this guide below, you will know if you need to begin trust litigation and what you can expect moving forward.

Guide to Trust Litigation

If you’re reading this article, you might be a beneficiary dealing with a trustee who is not doing their job as a trustee. And you might be thinking, how do I remove a Trustee in the California Probate Court?

Not having your beneficiary’s best interest in mind can mean many things. That can mean not maintaining trust property, mishandling assets, to even charging excessive fees in services costs. Grieving the loss of a loved one can be one of the most emotionally taxing times of your life, not to mention having to deal with removing a trustee who is not serving in the best interest of the Trust. It might be time to think about removing your trustee from the California probate court.

At The Grossman Law Firm, we have been educating our clients on their rights as a beneficiary in California. As well as helping them remove unreliable trustees and appointing individuals who will help manage the Trust more honestly and effectively. 

Removing a trustee

A trustee taking advantage of a beneficiary is subject to be removed from managing the trust estate. But what are the grounds for removing a trustee in California? In this article, you will learn: 

  • The six common reasons you can remove a trustee in California
  • What are the criteria for a breach of trustee’s duties? 
  • What happens when a trustee has a conflict of interest? 

Here are six reasons you can remove a trustee in California

As the beneficiary of a Trust administered in California, you rely on the trustee to act following the Trust rules, state law, and a sense of fairness and responsibility. Unfortunately, trustees do not always fulfill their obligations to the best of their abilities, and the California Probate Code provides many grounds for seeking the removal of a trustee from the probate court. A knowledgeable legal professional can help guide you through this process.

What are some justifications for the probate court to remove a trustee who is not doing their job? The following are standard examples:

  1. The trustee has committed a breach of the Trust document.
  2. A trustee has more debts than assets.
  3. The trustee is unfit to act as a trustee.
  4. There is hostility or lack of cooperation between co-trustees, making it difficult to administer the Trust.
  5. The trustee is demanding an excessive payment for their services.
  6. The California Probate Code dictates that the trustee must be disqualified from serving as a sole trustee.

So, what are the criteria for a breach of trustee’s duties? 

For a violation of the Trust to occur, a trustee would have to break any of the three provisions of California’s Trust Law that are in place to protect both the beneficiary and the Trust. 

A trustee has a duty not to use or deal with the Trust property for the trustee’s gain. Or any other purpose unconnected with the Trust. That means that a trustee must be acting in the best interest of the beneficiaries and the Trust. A trustee must not take part in any transaction that is in poor interest to the beneficiary.

What happens when a trustee has a breach? 

If there is a proven conflict of interest, it would be best to remove the trustee immediately. The longer they are an active part of the Trust management, the more it can affect your inheritance in the long term. That means the longer they are a trustee and mismanaging your Trust, the less money you will have. 

If the trustee is not acting under the three provisions of California’s trust law, the court can require the trustee to pay the beneficiaries for any loss to the Trust assets. The court can also remove the trustee’s powers while the litigation matter is pending, provided that the beneficiaries’ interest in the Trust is at risk.

Need some more information on removing a trustee in California? 

If you would still like some more information, check out our complete Overview of California Trust Litigation, available on our website. And if you have more questions about your rights as a beneficiary and what you should know moving forward. Please review our articles on the “Beneficiary’s Rights in California,” “Temporarily Suspending a Trustee,” and “What to do when a trustee has a conflict of interest” for more information on your rights as a beneficiary. 

Or if you are still having some trouble or have any more questions, or want to talk to someone about your case, please give us a call or fill out our New call-to-action  form.