Growing dissatisfaction with trustees?
Credit to Michael Bonasera of the Ohio Trust Estate Blog for spotting this article in the New York Times regarding growing dissatisfaction with trustees, particularly of the corporate variety. The article notes:
As a family trust moves into its second and third generations, it is almost inevitable that someone will be unhappy with a trustee. The current beneficiaries may want a more daring investment strategy than the trust bank’s usual allocation of 60 percent stocks plus 40 percent bonds. The original trust officers have probably retired, and the beneficiaries may not like their replacements. If some of the beneficiaries have moved, they may prefer a bank with more convenient headquarters. Then there’s the 20-year-old grandson who thinks the trustees are being stingy because they won’t give him the money to buy a Ferrari.
As the article notes, replacing a trustee under such circumstance isn't easy, particularly if the trust documents don't provide a mechanism for removal or replacement of the trustee. In Texas, a trustee can be removed for breaching the fiduciary duty owed to the beneficiaries. But as the article notes, often the issue isn't such a breach, but more a lack of effective communication between the trust department personnel of a financial institution and the beneficiaries. This circumstance is particularly likely when the personnel change regularly. The trustee-beneficiary relationship is built upon personal trust and comfort as much as upon legal duty. Having a rotating door in the trust department does not inspire confidence, nor does it allow for the development of long term relationships.