Can a trustee resign?

Can a Trustee resign?  

Yes.   If a trustee wants to resign, s/he can do so: 

  • As explained in the trust document;
  • If the trust is revocable, by getting the person who has the power to revoke the trust to consent;
  • If the trust is irrevocable, by consulting with all adult beneficiaries; or
  • By getting a Court order after filing a petition asking the Court for permission to resign.

Unless the beneficiaries say they do not want one, the trustee must file an accounting of all trust transactions while he or she was acting as trustee.

What if acting trustee dies or resigns or can no longer be the trustee?

If a trustee dies or resigns, is conserved or is declared “incompetent” by a court, or files for bankruptcy, then the trustee can no longer act as trustee and must be replaced.

Some trusts have 2 or more co-trustees and the trust may say that the remaining co-trustee will be the sole trustee, or may say how a new trustee will be appointed.

If the vacancy cannot be filled, then a trust company may agree to serve if all adult beneficiaries agree. If that fails, any person who has a financial stake in the trust or any person named as trustee can file a petition to have a trustee appointed.

Any beneficiary who is 14 years of age or older can nominate a trustee, even though a minor under the age of 18 is not legally qualified to serve as trustee.

The public guardian cannot be appointed as trustee of any trust unless the Court finds that no other qualified person is willing to act as trustee.


Source: Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara

Harrison K. Long – Business Solutions and Advisory – REALTOR® and broker associate, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage – 949-854-7747  (phone) –  CA DRE 01410855 – (email)

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