rule in Howe v Dartmouth

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The principle that trustees must act impartially between successive beneficiaries and not favour the interests of one beneficiary (e.g. a life tenant) over another (e.g. a remainderman), unless the trust instrument expressly provides that this rule is not to apply or makes it impossible for the trust assets to be applied evenly as between beneficiaries. The rule originates from the case of Howe v Earl of Dartmouth (1802) 7 Ves 137, which established that assets of a trust created by will should be converted, despite the absence of an express direction to do so, as long as the trust property is comprised of residuary personal estate, the property is of a wasting or reversionary character, and there is expressed an intention that the legatees should enjoy the same thing in succession.

Subjects: Law.

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