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Unthank v. Rippstein

    Brief Fact Summary. C.P. Craft handwrote a promise to make monthly payments to the appellee, Iva Rippstein, for the next five years if he lived that long. Later, Craft added an amendment to the letter stating that he was binding his estate to the monthly payments and struck out the phrase, “provided that I live that long.” The appellee sought to have the letter declared as a voluntary trust.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. A promise to make a gift is not a declaration of a trust

    Facts. Craft handwrote a promise to the appellee that he would make monthly payments in the amount of $200.00 to the appellee for the next five years, if he lived that long. At the end of the letter, he wrote in his own handwriting that he bound his estate to the payments and struck out the words stating “provided I live that long.” The appellee filed an action against the estate of the Craft demanding payments. The trial court ruled in favor of the appellee. The Court of Civil Appeals reversed and held that the letter established a voluntary trust.

    Issue. Whether a donor creates a trust by promising to make monthly payments in the future for an indefinite amount of time

    Held. No. A donor does not create a trust by promising to make monthly payments in the future. Craft wrote that he bound his estate to a promise to make monthly payments and excluded the clause stating “provided I live that long.” However this language does not suggest that the donor intended to be a trustee over the payments. His intent was to bind his estate to such payments but not to create a trust.

    Points of Law - for Law School Success

    For an express trust to be shown, however, (1) the words of the settlor ought to be construed as imperative and thus imposing an obligation on the trustee, (2) the subject to which the obligation relates must be certain, and (3) the person intended to be the beneficiary must be certain.

    View Full Point of Law
    Discussion. To prove a trust, the facts must show that the donor intended to act as a trustee or have the property managed by a trustee, not just a sincere desire to make a gift.


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