Michigan law makes it clear that it is part of a trustee’s fiduciary duty to follow the terms of a trust, including those that relate to administering the trust assets, distributing them in accordance with the directives of the trust, and paying any debts and expenses. The trustee also has a responsibility to locate, safeguard, and inventory all assets, keep records of all trust-related transactions, and communicate with and report to beneficiaries as needed. A trustee’s responsibilities also include a duty of loyalty to the trustor, with respect to following the trust terms as written, impartiality with respect to multiple beneficiaries, prudence in handling assets, and a complete separation of all trust assets from the trustee’s own assets.
If a beneficiary or other interested party believes that a trustee is ignoring or disregarding the terms of a trust, or not following the trust’s directives, then there are some very specific means of seeking a trustee’s removal. In some cases, the trust document itself may contain provisions for removing a trustee based on certain reasons. In other cases, however, the trust document is silent on the issue, which leaves only Michigan law to govern the potential removal of a trustee.
Under Michigan law, only a grantor or settlor, co-trustee, or qualified beneficiary may seek to relieve a trustee of his or her duties. However, a court also can remove a trustee on its own initiative. A trustee may be removed in the following circumstances:
· The trustee has committed a serious breach of trust.
· A lack of cooperation among co-trustees has impaired the administration of the trust.
· A court has made a finding that removal of the trustee best serves the purposes of the trust, due to the trustee’s unfitness, unwillingness, or persistent failure to properly and effectively administer the trust.
Whether you are interested in executing a trust or another type of estate planning tool, we are here to help you explore your options and make the decisions that best meet your family’s needs and wishes. At Legacy Law Center, our goal is to ensure that you have an effective estate plan in place to meet your loved ones’ needs and safeguard all of your assets. We have the skills and knowledge that you need to make the decisions about estate planning for your loved ones. Call your Michigan estate planning attorneys at (734) 995-2383 and schedule an immediate appointment.
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