Trustee Ex Maleficio


The term trustee ex maleficio refers to a person that has wrongfully acquired property and is regarded as holding it in trust.  A trustee ex maleficio typically arises from an operation of law, and is oftentimes associated with a constructive trust.


Derived from the Spanish language, maleficio translates into the English word "curse."  A trustee maleficio is a person that is acting in the role of a trustee since they are holding legal title to assets, or property, that was acquired through fraud or some other wrongdoing.

A trustee ex maleficio has been found guilty of a wrong through the operation of law.  They are assigned to the duty of trustee, since they cannot personally profit from their wrongdoing and will eventually provide the assets to a beneficiary.

A trustee ex maleficio is oftentimes appointed as the result of a constructive trust, which is a court-imposed, implied trust that benefits a party that has been harmed in some way or wrongfully deprived of assets.  Constructive trusts are not actual trusts; they are legal remedies used to correct the unjust enrichment of one party.  There are a number of harms that could result in a constructive trust, including: payment of compensatory or punitive damages, cases of fraud, and the return of life insurance proceeds obtained through illegal means.

Related Terms

resulting trust, individual policy pension trust, protective trust, power of appointment