History Of Trusts

In medieval times the “USE”, which was the forerunner of the trust, was brought into being by “A” transferring to “B” to the use of “C”. “B” then became the owner of the property in law and held the legal estate for the benefit of “C”.

The “USE” was most often used to overcome feudal dues arising on the premature death of a father leaving a male heir under legal age as well as enabling the disposition of land by will. The Statute of Uses of 1535 attempted to abolish the advantages of the USE but it was not successful; and by 1700 the USE had evolved into the trust of today.

The trust was used for many reasons: to tie up land or wealth for succeeding generations of the family and to make provisions for dependents. It was used also for many other
purposes, including dealing with the common law rule that a married woman could not hold property in her own right. This was overcome by vesting that property in trustees to hold in trust for her.

Trusts today are used for bypassing probate, preserving the estates for future generations, shielding assets from litigation, deferring taxes, management of assets and the replacement of wills and avoiding the complex legal estate system which can seriously reduce an estate under a writ. Trust law is unique in America and, of course English law from which we inherited it.