When can you challenge a trustee?

When your loved one set up one or more trusts, they did so likely with the intention of maintaining control over their legacy and providing for the people they love, including you. They probably put substantial thought in to the decision about who should serve as trustee.

Unfortunately, situations and relationships can change. Someone who was once an ideal trustee candidate may no longer be able to fulfill all the duties that come with that role. A trustee must have the intelligence to understand the terms of the trust, the organization to maintain all necessary records and the ability to rationally and fairly analyze claims or requests from beneficiaries.

After your loved one died, the trustee may have let the trust slowly fall apart due to lack of ability or involvement. To protect the trust and its assets, you might need to challenge the trustee.

Has the trustee moved, grown their family or had a medical event? Perhaps the trustee that your loved one named was someone already relatively old at the time of the creation of the trust. However, given their overall health and intelligence, your loved ones still believe that person would manage the trust well. Unfortunately, if their cognitive ability has declined, that person may no longer have the capacity to manage a trust, especially if their role involves the management of investments or complex assets like real estate.

It’s also possible that the trustee is fully capable of managing the trust but no longer has time. If they are young and have recently gotten a more demanding job or had a child, the demands of their own life may prevent them from fulfilling their obligations as trustee.

The same could be true of someone who used to live in the area but has since moved to another city or even out of Florida. Someone who isn’t present can’t manage the trust adequately and likely can’t devote enough time and attention to maintaining or increasing its assets.

If you are in a situation where you believe you need to challenge the trustee of a loved one’s trust, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.

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