Sumer Rana of Hammersmith solicitors, Hubbard Pegman and Whitney considers the below matter.

Ms Richards (the Deceased) by her will had left the whole of her estate to her friend, Mr Ison (the Defendant). The Deceased’s niece, Mrs Titcombe (the Claimant) claimed that there was a collection of valuable jewellery that the Defendant held on a secret trust for her as it was agreed that the Deceased and the Defendant would give the jewellery to the Claimant on her death.
The Defendant denied that Deceased had intended to create a secret trust in favour of the Claimant.
The Court examined whether the deceased intended to create a secret trust or a mere moral obligation. If the Deceased had intended her wishes to be the subject of a legal sanction this would involve the authority of the court and then a trust would have been created. Conversely, if this was not the intended sanction and ‘the matter was left simply to the conscience of the donee, then there is no trust but a moral obligation.’ The court decided that there was no discussion of the terms alleged by the Claimant by which a secret trust was created. Therefore, the court concluded that the claim to a secret trust failed.
The implication of this case shows the difficulties a party may face arguing the existence of a secret trust and how a lack of a written record of wishes will make establishing a claim of a secret trust less likely. It is prudent that the party claiming the existence of a secret trust provides precise evidence such as the how (whether verbal or in writing) the secret trust was said to be have been created and when (date).

If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact Sumer Rana on 02087359778 or email


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