Maxine Aaronson, Attorney at Law
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Estate Planning Newsletter

  • Inter Vivos Trusts
    Unlike a will or some other types of trusts, which take effect upon the death of their creator, a “living trust” or “inter vivos trust” comes into effect during its creator’s lifetime. The creator of a... Read more.
  • Returning Property to its Rightful Owner
    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.
  • Conservators of the Person and of the Estate
    A “conservator” is a court-appointed individual assigned to handle the daily affairs of those who cannot care for themselves due to physical or mental limitations (the “conservatee”). Conservatorships are... Read more.
  • The Unexpected Consequences of Creating Your Own Estate Planning Document
    Estate planning attorneys utilize a number of different estate planning techniques to accomplish the goals of their clients and sometimes to minimize transfer taxes. One common estate planning technique is the transfer of assets into an... Read more.
Estate Planning News Links

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.