PERSONAL LIABILITY OF TRUSTEES

Mass. Gen. L. c. 203, §14A governs the personal liability of trustees of donative trusts.  Prior to the adoption of this statute in 1976, trustees could be found personally liable for contractual infractions or for tortious actions committed by the trust, unless the trustee had disclaimed personal liability (either explicitly or implicitly).  See Gerber v. Berstein, 295 Mass. 132 (1936); National Academy of Sciences v. Cambridge Trust Co., 370 Mass. 303 (1976).

Mass. Gen. L. c. 203, § 14A provides that unless the contract provides otherwise, a trustee shall not be personally liable on contracts "properly entered into in his fiduciary capacity in the course of administration of the trust estate unless he failed to reveal his representative capacity and identify the trust estate in the contract."  The statute further provides that a trustee shall be personally liable for obligations arising from ownership or control of property of the trust estate or for torts committed in the course of administration of the trust estate only if the trustee is "personally at fault."

As noted above, Mass. Gen. L. c. 203, §14A does not apply to non-donative trusts (e.g., business trusts or nominee realty trusts).  See Apahouser Lock & Security Corporation v. Carvelli, 26 Mass. App. Ct. 385 (1988).