Does a Constructive Trust Have to Be in Writing?

Introduction

A constructive trust is an equitable remedy imposed by a court to prevent one party from unjustly enriching themselves at the expense of another. It can be used to rectify many different types of situations, such as when someone uses fraud or duress to obtain property. In Texas, a constructive trust does not have to be in writing in order for it to be valid. This is because the state follows the rule of equity, which allows for such trusts to be created orally.

What is a constructive trust?

In Texas, a constructive trust is an equitable remedy imposed by a court to prevent unjust enrichment. A constructive trust may be imposed when there is clear and convincing evidence that: (1) the person against whom the trust is imposed would be unjustly enriched if he were permitted to keep the property; and (2) the person who establishes the trust has a clear and convincing claim to the property.

A constructive trust is often imposed when one party wrongfully withholds or conveys property that rightfully belongs to another party. For example, if A sells B a piece of land but then refuses to transfer ownership of the land to B, a court may impose a constructive trust requiring A to convey the land to B.

A constructive trust may also be imposed when one party has committed fraud or breach of contract. For example, if A induces B to sell her house by making false promises about using the proceeds from the sale to build a new home for B, a court may impose a constructive trust requiring A to use the proceeds from the sale as promised.

Constructive trusts are generally not created by agreement of the parties; rather, they are imposed by courts as an equitable remedy. However, in some cases, parties may specifically agree to create a constructive trust in order to avoid potential disputes later on. For example, if A and B are buying a house together and they want to make sure that each party will have an undivided interest in the property, they could agree

What are the requirements for a constructive trust in Texas?

In order for a constructive trust to be valid in Texas, there are several requirements that must be met. First, it must be shown that there was an express or implied agreement between the parties to create the trust. Second, it must be shown that the property was transferred to the trustee with the intention of benefiting the beneficiary. Third, it must be shown that the beneficiary has a vested interest in the property. Fourth, it must be shown that the trustee has breached their fiduciary duty to the beneficiary. Lastly, it must be shown that there was resulting damages due to the breach of fiduciary duty.

What are the benefits of a constructive trust?

A constructive trust is a legal tool that can be used to remedy past wrongs and prevent future harms. When property has been wrongfully acquired or transferred, a constructive trust can be imposed by a court in order to restore the property to its rightful owner. This type of trust is also sometimes used to prevent someone from profiting from their own wrongdoing, such as when someone commits fraud or breaches a fiduciary duty.

There are many benefits of imposing a constructive trust, including:

• Restoring property to its rightful owner: This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of a constructive trust. When someone has wrongfully acquired or transferred property, a constructive trust can be used to correct the situation and return the property to its rightful owner.

• Preventing someone from profiting from their wrongdoing: A constructive trust can also be used to prevent someone from profiting from their own wrongdoing. For example, if someone commits fraud or breaches a fiduciary duty, they may be required to hold any property or money they acquired through these wrong actions in a constructive trust for the benefit of the victim.

• deterring future wrongdoing: Imposing a constructive trust may also deter future wrongdoing by sending a message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated and will not result in any financial gain.

What are the drawbacks of a constructive trust?

A constructive trust is an equitable remedy that can be ordered by a court to prevent unjust enrichment. It is usually used when one party has wrongfully obtained or retained property that rightfully belongs to another party.

However, there are some drawbacks to using a constructive trust as a remedy. First, the court will only order a constructive trust if it finds that the party who wrongfully obtained the property would be unjustly enriched if they were allowed to keep it. This can be difficult to prove, and may require expensive and time-consuming litigation.

Second, even if the court orders a constructive trust, the party who was unjustly enriched may still refuse to give up the property. In this case, the other party would have to go back to court and ask for enforcement of the order. This can be costly and time-consuming as well.

Finally, a constructive trust is not always easy to create or maintain. The parties must have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations under the trust in order for it to work properly. If there is any misunderstanding or disagreement between the parties, the trust may be voided or dissolved by the court.

How can you create a constructive trust in Texas?

If you want to create a constructive trust in Texas, there are a few things you need to do. First, you need to have a clear and concise written agreement between the parties involved. This agreement should outline the terms of the trust, including how the property will be held, managed, and distributed. Without a written agreement, it can be difficult to enforce the terms of the trust or prove its existence.

Second, you need to make sure that all of the property involved in the trust is located in Texas. This includes any real estate, personal property, or other assets that are part of the trust. If any of the property is located outside of Texas, the trust may not be valid.

Third, you need to file the trust with the county clerk’s office in Texas. The clerk will then issue a certificate of title for the property, which will list the trustee and beneficiaries of the trust. The certificate of title will help to prove the existence of the trust and protect your interests in the property.

Fourth, you need to provide notice to all interested parties about the existence of the trust. This includes any creditors or potential claimants who might have an interest in the property. By providing notice, you can help to prevent any claims against the property that could jeopardize its status as part of the trust.

By following these steps, you can create a valid and enforceable constructive trust in Texas.

Texas Case Law

The Texas Supreme Court has held that a constructive trust does not have to be in writing in order to be enforceable. In the case of Hinson v. Blanton, the court held that a constructive trust could be imposed based on the defendant’s illicit relationship with the plaintiff’s wife, even though there was no written agreement between the parties. The court indicated that a constructive trust is an equitable remedy that is designed to prevent unjust enrichment. The court noted that, in order for a constructive trust to be imposed, there must be clear and convincing evidence that: (1) the defendant has wrongfully obtained or maintained property; (2) the plaintiff is the rightful owner of the property; and (3) it would be unjust for the defendant to retain the property. Applying these factors, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to impose a constructive trust on the defendant. The court noted that the defendant had engaged in an affair with the plaintiff’s wife while he was still married to her, and that he had used his position of power within the company to obtain financial benefits for himself. The court further found that it would be unjust for the defendant to retain any property obtained as a result of his wrongful conduct.

Pope v. Garrett, 147 Tex. 18, 211 S.W.2d 559 (Tex. 1948)

Code Terminology

Constructive trust:

Where one person holds property for the benefit of another person.

Facts and Procedural History

Carrie Simons was forcibly prevented by one of her heirs from executing a will that would devise all of her property to Claytonia Garrett. She had asked her neighbor, Thomas J. Green, to prepare a will for her. He prepared it and brought it to her to be signed. At the time she was to sign the will, Green and Garrett were both present along with the Reverend Preacher and Jewel Benson, whom she had asked to witness the signing, her sister, Lillie Clay Smith, her nieces, Mary Jones and Evelyn Jones, and Alberta Justus. After declaring the document was her last will and testament, Evelyn Jones and Lillie Clay Smith, physically kept her from signing the document. Shortly after Simons suffered a severe hemorrhage, causing her to go into a semi comatose condition which she remained in until she died.

Simons then died intestate and Garrett brought suit against James pope and the rest of Simon’s heirs to impress a trust upon the property that had passed to Simon’s heirs. The district court awarded Garrett beneficial title to the whole property. The court of Civil Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part. It held that a trust should not be impressed upon the interests of the heirs who did not partake in preventing Simon’s from creating a will. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court of Texas. Case law has held that one who does a wrongful act does not get to benefit from the wrongful act. The court held that since title would have undoubtedly passed to Garrett but for the wrongful acts, when the heirs acquired title by inheritance they became constructive trustees for Garrett.

Simons’ heirs contend that Garrett has no right to any relief because she had no existing right in the property. They stated that all she was deprived of was a mere hope and expectancy to become a devisee. The court rejected this argument since but for the wrongful act, Garrett would have been the devisee. There was also an argument made that statutory law holds that a trust can only be created by an instrument in writing. However, it is generally held that a constructive trust is an exception to those rules. The court holds that the purpose of these statutes is to prevent fraud, not to protect fraud. Therefore, since Garrett did not acquire title to the property through the will, the trust is made in favor “of the one who is in good conscience entitled to it.”

The court also found that even though the other heirs did not take part in the wrongful act they still benefitted from it. Had it not been for the wrongful act none of them would have taken either. Therefor the court reversed the judgment of the Court of Civil Appeals and affirmed the judgment of the district court that all the interest of the heirs go into a constructive trust.

Main Considerations

Can heirs that had nothing to do with a wrongful act still benefit from the wrongful act?

No. The court will do its best to ensure that relief is granted in favor “of the one who is in good conscious entitled to it.”

Can a constructive trust be made without being in writing?

Yes. A constructive trust can be made to prevent wrongdoers from benefiting from their wrongful acts.

Takeaways

Pope v. Garrett shows that even innocent heirs who did not partake in a wrongful act will not benefit from the wrongful act and that a constructive trust can be made without an instrument in writing.

Conclusion

Although a Texas constructive trust does not have to be in writing, it is always best to put it in writing. This way, there is no question as to the terms of the trust or who the beneficiaries are. A written trust also makes it easier to enforce if there are any disputes.

Do you need an Experienced Probate Attorney to help?

A constructive trust is a legal relationship between two parties that is created by a court order. The court order requires one party to hold property for the benefit of the other party. A constructive trust can be created for many different reasons, including to prevent someone from unfairly profiting from another person’s property.

In Texas, a constructive trust does not have to be in writing in order to be valid. However, it is always best to put the terms of the trust in writing so that there is no confusion about what was agreed to by the parties. An experienced probate attorney can help you create a constructive trust and ensure that it meets all of the requirements under Texas law. (512) 273-7444.

https://austin-probate.com/

What are the two major fundamental requirements in order to prove acquisition under a constructive trust?

In order to prove acquisition under a constructive trust in Texas, two major fundamental requirements must be met: (1) the existence of a confidential or fiduciary relationship between the parties, and (2) proof that the property was acquired by one party through the use of fraud, duress, or undue influence.

What makes a trust valid in Texas? Certificate?

In order for a constructive trust to be valid in Texas, it must be based on a written agreement between the parties. This agreement must be signed by both parties and must clearly state the terms of the trust. The agreement must also be registered with the county clerk’s office in order to be enforceable.

How to terminate a trust in Texas?

In Texas, a constructive trust may be terminated in one of two ways:

1) by agreement of the parties; or
2) by court order.

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