Our Trustee Is Causing Problems?
One of the things that you cannot control is who the Grantor chooses as a successor Trustee for their living trust. If the Grantor opts to select co-Trustees, hopefully they can get along. However, this may not always be the case.
What if Trustees can’t get along?
What do co-Trustees do when they cannot get along with each other? They can continue to try and administer the Grantor’s estate. If they can’t reach a unanimous decision they can act according to a majority. A.R.S. §14-10703. But sometimes the authority to act in the name of the Grantor is given to the co-Trustees together to act jointly, or if there are only two Trustees appointed, then there is not a majority.
If that is your situation, then you have some options.
Option 1: Trustee Can Withdraw
Typically, the Trust provides language that allows the Trustee to withdraw or resign and allow the other Trustee(s) to act. ARS § 14-10705. So, if you’d rather resign and let the others take care of the administration of the trust, you usually can.
Option 2: Request Other Trustee(s) Withdraw
If you don’t want to give up your appointment, you can also request that the other Trustee(s) withdraw. A Trustee has the power to request the court to remove the co-Trustee(s) in the event of a material breach of trust, lack of cooperation or unfitness. ARS § 14-10706.
Option 3: Appoint a Third-Party as a Successor Trustee
Another option to consider would be appointing a successor co-Trustee to act. This is an economical way to authorize an individual or business to administer the estate as an unbiased third-party. There are professional trustees and fiduciaries employed for just this reason. This allows for the co-Trustees to choose together a third-party that can do the job that they cannot do because of the conflicts and contention involved at a reasonable price.
Option 4: Let the Conflict Continue
The alternative is to continue to have conflict and get attorneys involved, which would ultimately drive up the price of administering the estate and decrease the distribution to beneficiaries.
If the co-Trustees cannot agree on anything, then it will likely go to court and be determined by the judge. And nobody wins when they take this route–except the attorneys. If the conflict does continue, please call Probate Law Group at 480.535.8000. We can help.