All fiduciaries such as Trustees, Executors and Administrators must properly perform their duties. When there is a breach of fiduciary duty, a Court can suspend the fiduciaries’ powers or remove them from office.
Revoking the appointment of a fiduciary is not easily accomplished. The Courts typically respect a person’s choice of Executors or Trustees and try to follow the intentions in a Last Will or Trust. However, there are circumstances when revocation and removal is warranted. Also, a fiduciary has a right to a full hearing before being formally removed. This involves discovery of information and testimony before the Court.
In a recent Brooklyn estate decided by Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres on March 20, 2019 entitled Matter of Estate of Gadsden, the Court removed a Trustee of a Living Trust. This case involved a proceeding under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Section 711 entitled “Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct”. The statute sets forth specific grounds that would be a basis for removal.
As a basis for removal the Court found that the Trustee failed to distribute trust principal as required by the terms of the trust and had distributed trust assets for the benefit of only some of the beneficiaries. Also, the Trustee failed to proceed with an accounting as required by a Court Order.
Gadsden is an example of a situation where a Trustee not only breached his fiduciary duties by not making proper distributions but also by disobeying direct Orders of the Court to distribute assets and account.
I have represented many beneficiaries and fiduciaries in proceedings for the removal of a fiduciary. Sometimes, the conduct of the fiduciary is so egregious that a Court will immediately suspend the authority of the fiduciary.
If you have a question or concern regarding Fiduciary Duties or other estate or trust problems, call me now for a free review. We offer reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to Guardianships, probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Queens County and the Bronx. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.