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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Guardianships
    In certain cases, a minor may need to be assigned a legal guardian either because a parent is not able to care for the minor, or because the existing guardian is not competent. When a guardian is appointed, he/she will have the same... Read more.
  • Totten Trusts for Assets Payable on Death
    A decedent’s assets may be transferred upon their death to their heirs or other beneficiaries through probate. “Probate” is the legal process by which a court determines who receives a decedent’s assets under... Read more.
  • The Effect of Inheritance on Child Support Payments
    The federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984 requires each state to develop its own set of systematic guidelines for calculating awards of child support. Generally, state child support guidelines are based on the parents’... Read more.
  • Special Use Valuation for Certain Estate Properties
    Calculation of the Value of Estate Assets Estate taxes are calculated based upon the value of the assets in the estate. One duty of the executor or administrator is to inventory all estate assets and assign a... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

Constructive Trusts: Fraudulent Transfer 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.

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