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By: Scott Grossman on April 24th, 2018

Removing parent’s trust attorney as trustee

This article focuses on removing parents’ trust attorney as trustee.

Some trust attorneys think it is appropriate for them to serve as trustee or co-trustee of their clients’ trusts after their clients have died. The California Probate Code provides a way of removing those attorneys from their role as successor trustee.  Beneficiaries who find themselves dealing with their parent’s attorney are often wise to seek the attorney’s removal.  Attorneys who do this know, or ought to know, this type of conduct is disfavored by the California law, reeks of undue influence, and may tell you something about that attorney’s ethics.

When A Trust Attorney Changes A Dying Parent’s Trust


My client, “Lisa,” was inheriting a substantial amount of money from her father’s trust.  Eight months before her father passed away, and while afflicted with dementia, he had his attorney change his trust so that Lisa would receive considerably less money and a charity would receive the remainder when Lisa died.  Lisa was irate when her father’s trust attorney changed his trust because he was so obviously impaired. She was even angrier his attorney would serve as successor trustee

During her father’s final months he was incapable of managing his financial affairs so his trustee, his lawyer, took charge.  He charged for the work he did as trustee at the same rate as his legal fees.  And he did a lot of work.  He charged tens of thousands of dollars for his work.  Lisa could see he would charge even more over the coming years. Her father’s attorney had effectively given himself an annuity at her expense.


 When A Trust Attorney Makes Himself Successor Trustee

Lisa decided to have us file a petition with the probate court seeking to remove the trustee.  Lisa had some powerful tools on her side.  First, the California Probate Code presumes an attorney who drafts a trust as trustee should not serve as trustee.  Second, the court could rule that an attorney who defends his removal in bad faith should pay the attorney’s fees and costs for the suit to remove him. Under these circumstances most drafting attorneys have little incentive to defend a petition to remove them.  They usually, after a person files the petition for their re-movement, find a way and an excuse for their resignation as trustee. When the attorney resigns as trustee, a successor trustee will then take over the administration of the trust. If you suspect your parents’ trust attorney tampered with your parents’ will, contact us today. You can also request our free book Winning the Inheritance Battle for more information.