Can a Trustee or Executor be Replaced?

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A trustee can be replaced only according to rules within the trust or will, and executors are often chosen by the court. Learn when a trustee or executor can be replaced from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

Can a trustee or executor be replaced? Great question, hard to say. The first thing you have to do, in a trust, you have to look at the trust document. Well drawn trusts will provide a mechanism, typically, for removing a trustee. If it's a beneficiary, and the beneficiary's an adult, oftentimes adult beneficiary's are going to have the ability to change the trustee. We don't typically want a lot of head butting going on. Normally we would never pick an adult sibling to be the trustee of another adult sibling, just because head butting chances go up dramatically in that situation. But it may be that we do have that situation, we may have a third party as a trustee. Whoever the trustee is, a well drawn trust, typically drawn by a very competent estate planning attorney, is going to have provisions in it to allow the beneficiary to control who that beneficiary's trustee is. In many, many situations, the beneficiary and the trustee are the same person. It's different when you get into wills. The person who's in charge of the will is called an executor. The executor is appointed by the court. It may be in the will that there's some provision in there regarding when an executor should not serve as an executor. That is always going to be up to the supervision of the court. Just because some beneficiary doesn't want that executor to serve doesn't mean the court has to remove it. Anything dealing with court is going to sound like money, and it will be money because a lawyer's going to have to in there on behalf of the estate, and request the court to do something. Bottom line is, it's going to be an expensive process. So if you're trying to think about who should be named as executor in your own planning, think very carefully, make sure you have a good primary and some good backups, because the primary may also pass away or become unable to serve, or decide not to serve, we want to make sure we have plenty of backups.

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