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Case for trust ownership reversed in South Carolina court

Disputes over properties held in trust are often complicated and time-consuming, and they can also take a lot of resources and energy away from vital operations. This is why it's important to be very specific about the intentions for any trusts, whether they're designed to benefit someone's heirs or they're being used to hold property and assets for an organization or charity.

A church in South Carolina was recently part of a dispute over who owned and controlled the land on which their place of worship sits. A congregation broke away from its national denomination, which led the head office to claim their property back from that group. The congregation later joined a different denomination and did not stay independent.

The Supreme Court in Columbia claimed in a ruling that the national denomination holds its parishes' properties in trust. However, the head office's claim for compensation was reversed by a later ruling by another judge who ruled that the law provided each individual church with its own property.

"This is a property matter, and the title holders are the owners of their property as set forth in their deeds. There is no clear, convincing evidence of an expressed or constructive trust applicable to any parish," said the circuit court judge in his ruling.

Trust disputes may be resolved by an attorney. More importantly, they may be prevented in the first place by an attorney. Legal representation while creating a trust can attend to all the details that can resolve questions future generations or beneficiaries may have. If someone wants an effective trust, he or she should not try to do it alone.

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