I shall confine myself to a review of the more prominent objections urged against the validity of a trust of this description. 1st. It is said that the trust authorized by the statute "to receive the rents and profits of land, and to apply them to the use of any person," by necessary implication clothes the trustee with a discretion in the expenditure of the fund;(that a trust to pay over the rents and profits to the beneficiary, deprives the trustee of all discretion and is consequently void. It should be remembered in considering this proposition, that the statute in reference to express trusts is merely permissive. It creates nothing. We might infer from the argument addressed to us, that the Legislature had in the first instance annulled all trusts, and then proceeded to a new creation. It is more correct to say that they abolished all that they have not recognized as existing. The trusts preserved have their foundation in the common law, and their effect is to be determined by the application of common-law principles. By that law the trustee must apply the trust fund according to the instructions of its author. His duty is the same now, if the directions given do not contravene the general object for which the trust is authorized by the statute. With this limitation the authority of the donor is as absolute now as before the statute. Now an express trust may be created according to the third subdivision of the 55th section, "to receive and apply the rents and profits of land to the use of any person." The subject is the rents and profits of land; the object, an application to the use of any person. When a trust is created of this nature, it is recognized as existing with all its common-law incidents. The relation of the donor and trustee, the power of the former and the duty of the latter, are precisely what they were by the common law.
1 See §§ 76 and 80, N. Y. R. P. L. - Ed.
The statute no more prescribed the mode in which the profits must be applied, than the manner in which they are to be received. The details may be arranged by the donor in both cases for himself, or left to the discretion of the trustee. If the trustee may apply the fund to the education of the beneficiary, where no instructions are given, (and this is conceded,) the creator of the trust may direct it to be done. Because, in either case, the application would be to the use of the person designated and within the letter and spirit of the statute. It is believed that in all cases, before and since the' statute, the rule is uniform, that the creator of the trust may direct specifically the. performance of those things which the trustee, whose authority is derived from him, might himself perform, in the lawful execution of the trust, if no specific directions were given The proposition under review annuls this power of the donor. It transfers to the trustee alone, a discretion in the application of the fund, which the donor could exercise himself by the rules of the common law, and declares that the relation between the trustee and beneficiary is fixed by statute, and must be the same in all cases, any differences in the character or circumstances of the latter to the contrary notwithstanding. This theory is to be established, if at all, by implication. The statute says nothing of the discretion of the trustee; it speaks only of the power of the creator of the trust. It does not in terms compel a donor, who may be supposed to feel the strongest interest in the beneficiary, and to possess an equal knowledge of his character and necessities, to lean exclusively upon the discretion of a trustee, in the administration of his bounty. The implication should be strong, that leads to such results. I will glance briefly at the argument by which it is maintained.
And first, it is alleged that the Legislature had in view a particular class or description of persons as beneficiaries. "Persons who could not safely be trusted with the management of their own affairs, and for that reason a trustee was allowed to make the application for them." Hawley v. James, 16 Wend. 157; 14 Id. 321. The answer to this view is to be found in the law itself. The rents and profits arising from such a trust may be applied to the use of "any person," without regard to his condition, habits, character, or mental capacity. No judge or lawyer has ventured to deny this directly; or to assert that a trust for the benefit of a millionaire, in the full vigor of health and intellect, is not as effectual, as though its subject was a lunatic pauper. And yet to support this construction it has been constantly assumed that the Legislature, in this respect, intended not only what they have not said, but the reverse of what they have declared. This assumption, indeed, is indispensable to the support of the hypothesis under review. According to that, the trustee, as remarked, must always sustain the same relation to the cestui que trust. He is to exercise a kind of guardianship in the expenditure of the fund, (16 Wend. 158,) and a guardianship of precisely the same character in all cases. Such a doctrine would be anything but a necessary implication from a statute, which admitted all persons without exception to the class of beneficiaries.
To give plausibility to a doctrine which places all cestuis que trustent upon the same statute level of incapacity, as to the management of their own affairs, a common disability must in some way be established. Hence the attempt in all the arguments addressed to us, and all the opinions delivered upon this subject, sometimes from the history of this section, and sometimes from its language, to group the beneficiaries into classes, between which there was some supposed resemblance, and as to all of whom, a guardianship of the kind alluded to might exist without manifest inconvenience or absurdity. 14 Wend. 321. It is this preconceived notion, which has induced those by whom it was entertained, to restrict the obvious meaning of the words occurring in the third subdivision of this section. "Apply," for example, which means the act of applying, and includes obviously any act of the trustee by which the trust fund is applied for the benefit of the cestui que trust, whether expressly directed by the donor, or performed according to the discretion of the trustee, is limited to the latter exclusively; and the trustee by force of it constituted, in all cases, the discretionary almoner of the donor's bounty. "In no other way," it is said, "can we give force to the word apply." It seems to me very clear, that the term is robbed of half its power by the restriction. "Use," also one of the most comprehensive words in our language, and adopted by the revisers for that reason, is in this way held to mean a sort of benefit, conferred according to the discretion of a trustee; and "any person," as we have seen, to stand for some persons in particular.