By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann, a Freehold, NJ Trust Attorney
You may be wondering what the procedure is for relinquishing duties as a trustee and appointing a replacement trustee. In short, the requirements for resigning as trustee are typically highlighted within the terms of the trust itself; however, absent such language, a trustee may successfully resign with either the consent of the beneficiaries or court approval. To appoint a replacement trustee, absent any language specifically detailing the appointment procedure, a motion and court approval are necessary.
A trustee may not resign from his or her duties by their own act alone; instead, a trustee seeking to step down must receive either consent from the beneficiaries, or where the beneficiaries object, court approval. Generally, a court will grant such a request so long as there is a sufficient reason and the resignation will not prejudice the beneficiaries. See Id. Where there is no language speaking directly to the process by which a trustee can resign, a trustee seeking resignation should provide at least twenty (20) days written notice to all interested parties (including all beneficiaries and any other trustees). See 1-13 New Jersey Estate Planning § 13.4.9.
It does not appear as though there are any specific requirements for appointing a replacement, only the requirement of court approval where the instrument does not require otherwise. Where the Superior Court approves the removal or discharge of a trustee, it will be tasked with appointing a replacement. See N.J. Stat. §§ 3B:11-5 and 3B:11-6.
Thus, it will be necessary to examine the trust first. If there is any language contained therein, then we will have to comply with its terms in attaining the trustee’s resignation. Otherwise, notice should be sent out to all beneficiaries advising them of the trustee’s intent to resign. Should anyone object, a motion to the court will be necessary. Likewise, absent any procedure for the appointment of a replacement trustee, a motion to the court will be necessary.
To discuss your NJ trust matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org/. Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.