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Changing a Trustee in California

In most cases, a Trustee can be changed after a California Trust becomes irrevocable. How you go about making that change varies depending on your Trust document and your circumstances.

For starters, look at your Trust document. Most Trust documents provide a method for changing the Trustee. Some Trusts allow the Trust beneficiaries to make this change, some Trusts allow another person who is not a beneficiary to make this change, and some Trusts only allow a change where the Trustee voluntarily resigns from office. You need to read your Trust to determine what rights you have. If you are unsure, speak with a skilled California Trust lawyer.


If your Trust allows you, or some other person, to remove the Trustee and appoint a new Trustee, then your job is easy. Just follow the Trust terms. The Trust may require you to send written notice to the Trustee to remove them. Once you follow that directive, the Trustee must step down and a successor Trustee can be appointed.

If another person has the right to remove and replace the Trustee, then you would want to talk to that person. Discuss with them the reason you want to remove the Trustee and appoint someone new. Hopefully, they will agree with you and help you make that change.

Finally, nearly every Trust can change the Trustee when the current Trustee resigns. This is true even where the Trust document is silent on the issue. Once a Trustee resigns, then either the next person named would act, or maybe you can appoint someone new if the Trust terms allow you to do that. Either way, a new Trustee will be in office when a Trustee resigns.

Filing a Petition in California Probate Court

If all else fails, you can also go to the California Probate Court, file your petition, and ask the court to accept the resignation of the current Trustee and appoint a successor. The court has the power to assist with the process when required to do so.

In cases where you don’t have the power to remove your Trustee, and the Trustee refuses to resign, then you may have to file in court for Trustee removal. But that is the subject of another blog (in fact, the subject of many other blogs we have written on the topic of Trustee removal). For the purposes of this article, we are referring to cases where either the Trust document gives you the power to remove a Trustee, or the Trustee voluntarily resigns. In those two cases, it is much easier to follow the Trust terms to appoint a successor Trustee.’

For advice on your specific situation, contact Albertson & Davidson today.