Trust – a property interest held by one person (the trustee) at the request of another (the settlor) for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary)


n. (15c.) 1. The right, enforceable solely in equity, to the beneficial enjoyment of property to which another person holds the legal title; a property interest held by one person (the trustee) at the request of another (the settlor) for the benefit of a third party (the beneficiary).  For a trust to be valid, it must involve specific propertyreflect the settlor’s intent, & be created for a lawful purpose. The two primary types of trusts are private trusts & charitable trusts.  2. A fiduciary relationship regarding property & charging the person with title to the property with equitable duties to deal with it for another’s benefit; the confidence placed in a trustee, together with the trustee’s obligations toward the property & the beneficiary.  A trust arises as a result of a manifestation of an intention to create it. 3. The property so held;”

     Excerpt from William C. Dunn’s Trusts for Business Purposes (1922):

     “In its technical sense, a trust is the right, enforceable solely in equity to the beneficial enjoyment of property, the legal title of which is vested in another and implies separate coexistence of the legal and the equitable titles vested in different persons at the same time; in its more comprehensive sense the term embraces every bailment, every transaction by agent or factor, every deposit, and every matter in which the slightest trust or confidence exists. The word trust, however, is frequently employed to indicate duties, relations, and responsibilities which are not strictly and technically trusts.” [2]

     Excerpt from Tony Honoré’s The South African Law of Trusts (1985):

     “One must distinguish,… [in] countries where English is spoken, between a wide and a narrow sense of the word ‘trust.’  In the wide sense a trust exists when property is to be held or administered by one person on behalf of another or for some purpose other than his own benefit… In the narrow or strict sense a trust exists when the creator of the trust… hands over or is bound to hand over the control of an asset which, or the proceeds of which, is to be administered by another (the trustee
or administrator) in his capacity as such for the benefit of some person (beneficiary) other than the trustee or for some impersonal object. A trust in this sense is a species of the genus ‘trust’ in the wide sense.“ [3]

     Excerpt from Austin W. Scott & William F. Fratcher, The Law of Trusts (4th ed. 1987):

     “Some courts and legal writers have defined a trust as a certain kind of right that the beneficiary has against the trustee, or a certain kind of interest that the beneficiary has against the trustee, or a certain kind of interest that the beneficiary has in the trust property, thus looking at it from the point of view of the beneficiary. While it is true that the beneficiary has the right or interest described, the trust is something more than the right or interest of the beneficiary.  The trust is the whole juridical device: the legal relationship between the parties with respect to the property that is its subject matter, including not merely the duties that the trustee
owes to the beneficiary and to the rest of the world, but also the rights, privileges, powers, and immunities that the beneficiary has against the trustee and against the rest of the world. It would seem proper, therefore, to define the trust either as a relationship having certain characteristics stated in the definition or perhaps as a juridical device or legal institution involving such a relationship.” [4]

     Excerpt from Restatement (Third) of Trusts 5 2 cmt. f (2003):

     “In the strict, traditional sense, a trust involves three elements:

(1) a trustee, who hold the trust property & is
subject to deal with it for the benefit of one or
more others
(2) one or more beneficiaries, to whom & for
whose benefit the trustee owes duties with respect to the trust property
(3) trust property, which is held by the trustee for
the beneficiaries.  In a more comprehensive sense, the trust purpose is often included in discussions of the elements of the trusts…  Although all of these elements are present in a complete trust, either or both of elements (1) and (2) above may be temporarily absent without destroying the trust or preventing its creation.” [5]


[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: William C. Dunn, Trusts for Business Purposes 2 (1922)

[3]: Tony Honoré, The South African Law of Trusts 55 1-2, at 1-3 (3d ed. 1985).

[4]: 1 Austin W. Scott & William F. Fratcher, The Law of Trusts 52.4, at 42 (4th ed. 1987)

[5]: Restatement (Third) of Trusts 5 2 cmt. f (2003)


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