Removal of a Trustee in Ohio

Under the Ohio Trust Code, the settlor, a co-trustee, or beneficiary may request the court to remove a trustee or the court may remove a trustee on its own initiative.  The statutory basis for removal includes situations where (1) the trustee has committed a serious breach; (2) lack of cooperation among co-trustees substantially impairs the administration of the trust; (3) due to a trustee’s unfitness, unwillingness or persistent failure to administer the trust, the court determines removal in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

Interestingly, the Uniform Trust Code’s provision allowing for no-fault removal of a trustee by the court based on substantial change in circumstances or request by all the qualified beneficiaries where the court determines the removal is in the best interests of the beneficiaries, and doesn’t violate a material purpose and a suitable successor is available, was not adopted by Ohio.

In Tomazic v. Rapoport  the lower court removed the trustee upon petition of the beneficiary based on evidence that the trustee (i) expended trust funds of $115,000 on a property he sold at a loss using companies with which he had a personal or attorney-client relationship to do the work; (ii) advised those companies not to answer the subpoenas served by counsel for plaintiff-beneficiary; (iii) never provided an accounting of trust expenditures; (iv)  offered to transfer to the beneficiary trust real estate in which the beneficiary resided conditioned upon her releasing him of liability and threatened to evict her; and (v) terminated her interest in the trust pursuant to his discretionary authority in order to terminate her standing as a beneficiary and negate her ability to proceed with the lawsuit.