This section is from the book "Popular Law Library Vol7 Equity Jurisprudence, Trusts, Equity Pleading", by Albert H. Putney. Also available from Amazon: Popular Law-Dictionary.
A class of express trusts which give rise to no little difficulty are those arising from what are known as precatory words.
"Precatory words are words of expectation, hope, desire, or recommendation, used by a donor in qualifying an absolute gift."
The former tendency of the courts was to create a trust out of precatory words whenever it was possible to do so. This doctrine however, has been greatly modified. The law on this point has been greatly modified, the present rule being stated by Pomeroy2 as follows:
1 Under the classification used by English writers on this subject, implied resulting and constructive trusts are three distinct classes. Under this classification, an implied trust is what, under the American system of classification, would be described as an express trust created growing out of precatory words. The American classification is both more convenient and more accurate.
"In order that a trust may arise from the use of precatory words, the court must be satisfied from the words themselves, taken in connection with all the other terms of the disposition, that the testator's intention to create an express trust was as full, complete, settled, and sure as though he had given the property to hold upon a trust declared in express terms in the ordinary manner. Unless a gift to A, with precatory words in favor of B, is in fact equivalent in its meaning, intention, and effect to a gift to A, 'in trust for B,' then certainly no trust should be inferred. The early decisions proceeded perhaps upon a more artificial rule, and saw an intention in the use of words of wish, desire, and the like, where no such intention really existed. The modern decisions have adopted a more just and reasonable rule, and require the intention to exist as a fact, and to be expressed in unequivocal language. No other conclusion can be reconciled with the general principles of construction, which are based upon reason and universal experience. It has sometimes been stated as a general rule that a prima facie presumption of an intention to create a trust arises from the use of precatory words. Whatever may have been true of the earlier cases, the modern authorities do not, in my opinion, sustain any such rule; it is contrary to their whole scope and tenor."