The general rule in Missouri is that successor trustees, unless the terms of the trust document say otherwise, possess all of the duties and authority of the initial trustee and/or any predecessor trustee. Therefore, a successor trustee usually possesses all of the “specific powers” of a trustee articulated in Section 456.8-816, RSMo.
One of the powers specifically mentioned in Section 456.8-816 is the authority of a trustee to “pay or contest any claim, settle a claim by or against the trust, and release, in whole or in part, a claim belonging to the trust.” What this sometimes involves — particularly in cases of breach of trust, trustee removal or trustee vacancy — is the successor trustee investigating, suing or compromising claims of wrongdoing that may have been committed by a predecessor trustee. Consequently, in addition to the administration of a trust prospectively, a successor trustee may have a duty to pursue any claims of liability the trust may have against a prior trustee.
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