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MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 97: The court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff.

This case arises out of a dispute over real property located in Southfield, Michigan. The parties, who were involved in a serious romantic relationship, purchased the property with the intent to build a home. Plaintiff provided the funds to purchase the property and intended to have the property titled solely in her name.

After some discussion about defendant acting as a general contractor and doing some of the construction work for the home himself, plaintiff agreed to add defendant’s name to the deed. A little more than a year later, the parties ended their relationship, without the house being built.

Constructive Trust

When defendant refused to sign a quitclaim deed conveying his interest in the property to plaintiff, plaintiff filed action, asserting constructive trust and unjust enrichment.

A constructive trust is an equitable remedy created not by intent or by agreement, but by the operation of law. A court imposes a constructive trust when equity is necessary or to prevent unjust enrichment. Such a trust may be imposed when property has been obtained through fraud, misrepresentation, concealment, undue influence, duress, taking advantage of one’s weakness, or necessities, or any other similar circumstances which render it unconscionable for the holder of the legal title to retain and enjoy the property.

Trial Court

Although defendant recognizes that a constructive trust may be a remedy for unjust enrichment, defendant argues that he was not unjustly enriched by plaintiff’s adding of his name to the deed.

Plaintiff clearly demonstrated that defendant received a benefit from plaintiff when she added his name to the deed without his contributing any funds toward the purchase price. The question is whether an inequity would result if defendant were allowed to retain his interest in the property. The evidence demonstrated that plaintiff allowed defendant’s name to be placed on the deed because he agreed to contribute his time and labor toward building a house on the property. It is undisputed that defendant failed to build a house on the property as contemplated by the parties.

The trial court found that plaintiff sustained her burden of establishing that a constructive trust was necessary to prevent defendant from being unjustly enriched. Accordingly, the court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff and ordered defendant to convey his interest in the property to plaintiff.

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MICHIGAN WILLS/TRUSTS 33: Trustees required to provide notice informing recipients that they may challenge the validity of a trust and the period allowed for bringing such a challenge.

The notice sent clearly advised her that if she wanted to contest the validity of the Trust in a judicial proceeding, the law required her to do so within six months from the date of the letter. Nothing in the statute requires a trustee to inform the recipients of the specific legal consequences of not acting during the time allowed.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

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