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Estate Planning Newsletter

Transferring Property to its Rightful Owner

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.

  • Facts About Resulting Trusts
    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.
  • Remedy for Fraudulent Transfers of Property
    A constructive trust is a remedy imposed by a court when a person has wrongfully attained property in an inappropriate way. The court will undo the transaction and order that title to the property go to the rightful... Read more.
  • Use of Foreign Trusts to Protect Against Creditors
    In today’s litigious society more individuals are inquiring about asset protection planning, especially those individuals with a high risk of potential exposure to liability, such as business owners, doctors, or those involved in... Read more.
  • International Standards for the Form of Wills
    The Convention on the Form of an International Will (the “Convention”) was drafted and presented to the international community in 1973. The Convention was signed and ratified by a number of countries, including Canada and... Read more.
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