However, unique circumstances can arise, making it necessary for probate courts to intervene and name a new trustee in order to properly protect the rights of all of the trust beneficiaries. Here are some sample scenarios under which courts may need to step in and name a trustee. (Although it can happen, this rarely occurs because someone simply forgot to designate a trustee from the start.)
Events That Often Require a Court to Name A New Trustee
- The trustee named is no longer alive, available or interested in serving in this often demanding capacity. If the trustee has predeceased the settlor (creator of the trust) or died shortly after beginning to handle his/her duties, courts will step in and name a new one if a secondary/backup trustee was not originally designated;
- When the current trustee appears to be seriously dishonest or has actually cheated a beneficiary out of money that should have already been distributed, appropriate charges can be brought and a new trustee named. This is one of the many, though rare reasons, why a settler should always name at least one secondary or backup trustee;
- The trustee becomes incapacitated – either temporarily or permanently. Serious accidents and deadly diseases can afflict all of us at any time. Once beneficiaries believe the trustee have become too disabled to properly handle all of his/her duties, the backup trustee should be asked to take over – or the court should name a new one;
- After a trustee has lost his/her legal capacity to serve in this role. Perhaps the person has recently been convicted of other fiduciary crimes – or felonies -- that indicate to the beneficiaries that the trustee no longer has the right to perform the designated duties;
- When a trustee belatedly decides he or she simply does not have the proper business acumen – or ongoing time available -- to properly administer the estate (even after hiring one or more lawyers, appraisers or others to help out). It often takes a number of years to handle larger estates and complete all of the required paperwork. For this and other reasons, some trustees will ask to be excused from their duties after serving for an extended period of time.
To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today. You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.