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Estate Planning

Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Responsibilities of a Trustee
    Every trust must have a trustee to properly administer the elements of the trust. Trustees can be individuals, financial institutions or even organizations. A trustee follows the precise instructions of the trustor (or the... Read more.
  • Correcting Mistakes in Trust Distribution
    There may be instances where property under a trust is transferred to the wrong beneficiary. This transfer can be corrected through a remedy called a resulting trust or an implied trust. Do not confuse a resulting trust, which is... Read more.
  • Inheritance Rights of Spouses after Separation and Divorce
    Most people are aware that a surviving spouse is usually entitled to inherit all or a large portion of the estate of a deceased spouse. Fewer understand the effect on estates if one spouse dies during a legal separation or after a... Read more.
  • Choice of Entity: Delaware Series LLC
    Limited Liability Companies (“LLCs”) are a form of business ownership which is a separate legal entity much like a corporation. An LLC is treated like a partnership for tax purposes and like a corporation for liability... Read more.
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Remedy for Unjust Obtainment of Property

A constructive trust is a remedy imposed by the court when a person has wrongfully attained property. The court basically takes the property away from the wrongful owner and puts it in trust for the rightful owner. In the estate planning/administration context, a constructive trust is usually imposed when there is wrongful conduct on the part of the trustee or beneficiary.

Types of Wrongful Conduct

Any wrongful activity that leads to the unfair acquisition of property may be cause for a constructive trust, including:

  • Fraud
  • Accident
  • Mistake
  • Undue influence
  • Violation of trust or fiduciary duty (for example, when a trustee purchases property in his own name rather than in the name of the beneficiary)
  • Homicide (for example, to obtain life insurance benefits)

Remedy Under Constructive Trusts

A constructive trust is imposed by a court as a result of a complaint by an affected party (typically a trustor or beneficiary of a trust). It may provide that the property pass from the wrongful owner to the rightful owner, or it may provide for the property to be held by a trustee for the rightful beneficiary.

However, if the unlawful owner has damaged or destroyed any of the trust property, the rightful owner is entitled to a money judgment for the value of the property.