If a trustee is removed from his or her duties, the former trustee usually turns over any assets he holds to the new trustee as quickly as possible. However, there are exceptions to that rule.
Marsha Sinzheimer and her late husband had created a trust for her benefit. The trust documents required that there should be co-trustees, one a corporate trustee and one an individual trustee.
Sinzheimer’s son Andrew was appointed to take over as the individual trustee. However, before the former individual trustee stepped down, he exercised his authority to remove the corporate trustee and did not name another one.
When Andrew took over, he demanded that the now former corporate trustee turn over control of the trust assets to him, but he was refused.
Andrew Sinzheimer and his mother sued, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in “Removed Corporate Trustee’s Refusal to Turn Over Trust Assets to Individual Trustee Was Prudent and Appropriate.”
The court determined that the former corporate trustee acted appropriately, because it had refused to turn over the assets until Andrew named another corporate trustee.
That was proper in this case, because Andrew intended to dissolve the trust and in doing so was not considering the interests of the remainder beneficiaries of the trust to whom the former corporate trustee still owed a fiduciary duty.
This case illustrates that trustees have duties to all of the beneficiaries of a trust. That includes beneficiaries who are not yet receiving any direct benefit from the trust.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Nov. 13, 2017) “Removed Corporate Trustee’s Refusal to Turn Over Trust Assets to Individual Trustee Was Prudent and Appropriate.”