Secret and half-secret trusts in Wills
Secret and half-secret trusts in Wills

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Secret and half-secret trusts in Wills
  • Drafting secret trusts
  • Types of secret trusts
  • Why secret trusts are enforced
  • Secret trust
  • Essential factors
  • Acquiescence
  • Communication of the secret trust
  • Half-secret trust
  • Conditions
  • More...

Drafting secret trusts

A client may wish to create a secret trust. A practitioner acting for such a client should preserve evidence of:

  1. the beneficial interests to arise under it

  2. compliance with the conditions for such trusts

In Re Rees' Will Trusts [1949] 2 All ER 1003, clause 3 of the testator's Will was as follows:

'I devise and bequeath all my estate and effects whatesoever and wheresoever of or to which I may be possessed or entitled at my death (subject to payment of my funeral and testamentary expenses and debts) unto my trustees absolutely they well knowing my wishes concerning the same and direct them to permit my brother Lewis John Rees to have and receive the rents and profits of my property at Vardre Clydach in the county of Glamorgan during his lifetime.'

The gift was held to be a gift on trust. Sir Raymond Evershed MR commented that in the general public interest it is desirable that if a testator wishes their property to go to their solicitor and the solicitor prepares the Will, that intention should be plainly expressed in the Will, and should not be arrived at by the more oblique method of a secret trust.

Types of secret trusts

There are two kinds of secret trusts:

  1. secret or fully secret trusts

  2. semi-secret or half-secret trusts

A fully secret trust arises where the testator gives

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