A long history of Trust protection

If you have just been introduced to our Property Protection Trusts as a way to protect your share of your home’s value, the idea placing your assets in Trust for the benefit of your loved ones may seem quite novel. But the principles of Trust law stretch all the way back to ancient times.

A modern Trust is a legal arrangement whereby a person, or a group of people, hold assets - homes, investments, cash - for the good of one or more beneficiaries. That principle – ensuring assets are managed in line with the true wishes of the original owner – can be traced back all the way to the Old Testament. The first Trust story involves an ancient King of Israel returning the ownership of land to a woman from one of her servants when she returned after a long absence.

The Romans had a sophisticated Trust law, first recognising the principle of placing property in Trust as an extension of the system of laws relating to Wills and inheritance. But the idea of a Trust created by a person while still alive came to prominence in England in the Middle Ages as a way to protect the land of aristocrats going off to fight in the Crusades.

When landowners went to the Holy Land, they would pass control of their estates to a member of their family or a friend on the understanding that it would be passed back on their return. But at that time, England’s un-written common law came down to possession being nine-tenths of the law and there was no legal recourse when the ‘caretaker’ owner refused to hand the legal title of lands back to a returning Knight.

Beneficial ownership

It became so common for former-Crusaders to petition the Crown for the return of their lands that a new principle of ownership in Trust was established on the grounds of ‘what was fair’ rather than the strict letter of the law, recognising for the first time a split between legal and beneficial ownership.

English Trust law has been spread throughout the world by the British Empire and was even made use of by the father of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, to protect his daughter’s inheritance from the creditors of her financially troubled husband.

In modern times, there are many examples of public Trusts run for the benefit of specific groups in the community. NHS Trusts are in the news all the time and although these are not actually Trusts in a strict legal sense, they are there to manage local health services for the good, not of private owners, but the patients.

Charities are often run as Trusts, with the trustees charged to ensure that the charity is run according to the rules of the Trust and serve the interests of its beneficiaries.

Charitable Trusts and their commercial counterparts, pensions and investment Trusts, are strictly regulated to protect the interests of their beneficiaries. Trustees, have a legal duty to manage the affairs of the trust with reasonable care and skill, and only act in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

Property Protection Trusts are a way to protect your share of your home’s value, ensuring that the inheritance you eventually pass on to your loved ones. Golden Charter arranges Property Protection Trusts for a large variety of people, including many existing customers who already have other later life planning products like Wills, Power of Attorney and funeral plans with us. Visit our website for more information or call us free on 0800 111 4514.