If you have a revocable living trust in place for yourself, you can generally amend your trust at any time, including the trustee. However, amendments must be properly executed based on state law and in accordance with the terms of the trust. Alternatively, if you have an irrevocable trust in place, changes to the document are not allowed. So, whether or not the grantor of a trust can change who the trustee is, depends on the type of trust.
Now, if you are a beneficiary of a trust, and you believe the current trustee is not fulfilling their fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries, either by not following the terms of the trust, by making bad decisions or by acting in bad faith, there may be a way to get the trustee removed and replaced with someone else.
In Illinois, the Illinois Trust Code is the body of law governing trusts and trustees. All Illinois trusts must comply with the Illinois Trust Code. Under the Illinois Trust Code, a beneficiary can request a judge remove a trustee and replace them with someone else. One way to determine whether a trustee may be removed is to review the terms of the trust along with the Illinois Trust Code, and determine if the trustee has clearly violated any of the terms. When a trustee breaches his or her legal or ethical duties to the beneficiaries of a trust, the trustee should be removed. Petitioning a judge is the way to do that.
For reference, Illinois Statue 760 ILCS 3/706 lists the reasons why a court may remove a trustee. To summarize, if a trustee has committed breach of trust, if there is a lack of cooperation among co-trustees, if there is an unwillingness of a trustee to act, or a request by all beneficiaries of the trust to remove them, a judge may order a trustee’s removal.
Alternatively, if you can show a trustee breached his/her fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, they may be removed. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries of the trust, while utilizing a certain standard of care. If you are the beneficiary of a trust and cannot show your trustee has violated any of the trust terms, but you can show your trustee has made decisions not in the best interests of the beneficiaries, you may be able to sue them for breach of their fiduciary duties.
If you are the beneficiary of a trust and suspect the trustee is not carrying out his or her duties properly, the best course of action is to consult with an attorney specializing in trusts and estates, have the document and the trustee’s actions analyzed, and get a determination as to whether you have grounds to petition a judge to have the trustee removed. It may not be an easy or fast process, but it is worth it in order to protect your financial interests.
If you need your trust reviewed contact us to set up an appointment.