Trustee accountability is an important ingredient to keeping an honest Orange County Trustee honest. We previously discussed giving the beneficiaries the power to remove and appoint Trustees as one form of Trustee accountability, but what if you don’t want to give beneficiaries that kind of power? Fear not, the Trust Protector can help.
A Trust Proctor or Special Trustee is really the same thing: a designated person who is given the narrow power to oversee certain aspects of a California Trust. Unlike a Trustee, the Trust Protector does not manage the Trust estate. Rather, the protector provides a safety valve for certain actions.
For example, a Special Trustee can be given the powers to make investments decisions for the Trust, or vote on the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. A Trust Protector can be given the power to remove the Trustee and appoint a successor.
It is really up to you what a Trust Protector can or cannot do in your Trust estate. The important thing is that you have someone who you trust who can step in and make important decisions when a conflict arises. The more neutral your protector, the more likely the beneficiaries will be to respect his or her decisions.
Trust Protectors and Special Trustees work great when no other options are available to protect the Trust and the Trust beneficiaries from the potential damage of a bad Trustee. And even good Trustees could benefit from a little oversight, advice, and accountability.