Roles of a Successor Trustee
An important benefit of a trust is the ability of the settlor to provide for the succession of a new trustee when the prior trustee is unable, or is no longer willing, to serve as trustee. At that time, a successor trustee may be asked to act as the new trustee, and would then be obligated to exercise his fiduciary duties over the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries. One of those duties, that may be overlooked, is to review the prior actions of the previous trustee in connection with the administration of the trust, and the successor trustee may be liable to the beneficiaries for actions of the predecessor trustee.
To avoid liability for acts of the previous trustee, and perhaps to avoid the additional administration costs that may incurred in the preparation and review of an accounting for the term of the trust during which the predecessor trustee was responsible for the trust, a successor trustee may rely on Florida Statute 736.08125 that protects successor trustees from personal liability as to any beneficiary that has waived an accounting with respect to the periods included in the waiver. This provision of the Florida Trust Code also shields the successor trustee from personal liability to a beneficiary if the beneficiary releases the successor trustee from the duty to institute any proceeding or file a claim against the predecessor trustee.
A trustee has many responsibilities and the acceptance of this fiduciary position should not be undertaken without careful consideration of these duties. These duties include reviewing the actions of the predecessor trustee, unless an appropriate waiver or release is received from all of the trust beneficiaries.