Contents of Wills-secret and half-secret trusts
Contents of Wills-secret and half-secret trusts

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

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

A secret or half-secret trust may be useful where a testator wishes to keep the identity of a beneficiary of a testamentary gift outside the text of their Will.

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 property by their Will to the donee but gives no indication that the donee is to hold their gift on trust, so that the gift looks like an absolute and beneficial one, but in fact the donee is bound by a trust obligation. Such an obligation can only arise if, during the testator's lifetime, they asked the donee to hold the gift not for their benefit but for the benefit of someone else and the donee has, expressly or by acquiescence, agreed to carry the testator's intention into effect. This form of trust was approved by the House of Loards in McCormick v Grogan.

In McCormick v Grogan, C made a Will leaving his whole property to G, whom he also appointed his executor. When about to die, C sent for G and, in a private interview, told him of the Will, and on G's asking whether that was right, said he would not have it otherwise. C then told G where the Will was to be found, and that

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