Trusts, Trustors, Settlors and Fake REMIC Trusts

All trusts that are legally recognized as such have the following basic components: the trustor/settlor who (a) executes a written trust agreement and (b) conveys property into the name of the named trustee to hold and manage the conveyed asset(s) for the benefit of named beneficiaries. So the three basic components are (1) property (the res), (2) a trustor/settlor, and (3) beneficiaries. Pooling and servicing agreements when read closely reveal in all cases that they are missing all three components.

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Trustees only exist in relation to a defined trust. A trust may technically exist if it is written down on paper. But it has no legal existence in court unless there is (a) something in it and (b) that something is relevant to the dispute being litigated in court. If it has no legal existence in court then the presumed powers of the trustee are irrelevant. The trustee’s power over claims or property are only as great as what is legally existing within the trust. That means that someone who owned an asset transferred it to the name of the trustee to hold in trust for the benefit of specific beneficiaries. In no case that I ever examined did such a transaction ever take place in connection with REMIC trusts or residential loans.

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Several legal malpractice suits have been based upon the failure of the lawyer to advise his/her client that the trust that has been drafted and executed is still completely worthless if the trustor does not transfer assets into the trust. The beneficiaries find out the hard way that the trust may have indicated an intent to distribute certain assets to them, but if there is nothing owned by the trust, they get nothing. It’s like forming a corporation in whose name no business is ever done. It doesn’t matter that the intent of the founder of the corporation meant to conduct business in the name of the trust.
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The corporation, like a trust, is a legal fiction equivalent (see Citizens United) to a legal person. That legal person cannot legally operate or own a car, directly or indirectly even through employment of a human, unless it legally buys the car and registers and insures it in accordance with state law. If the car gets into an accident then the person driving it is the one who will get sued because unless you can show that the person driving it was doing so at the behest of the corporation that did not own it, the corporation did nothing at all.
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Going back to the original question, the REMIC Trust exists on paper and is either regarded as inchoate (sleeping) or nonexistent, depending upon state law. Being named as trustee of such a trust conveys no power over anything except for what has been conveyed by a trustor/settlor to the trustee for the express purpose of holding and managing the asset for the benefit of named beneficiaries. While there are several references to things that might happen in the future, no such conveyance is ever recited as an accomplished fact.
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It therefore follows by simple logic that if a servicer is claiming the right to administer, collect or enforce a debt, it must be doing so on behalf of a legal person who is entitled to such administration, collection and enforcement. If the company claiming the label of “servicer” is claiming it is empowered by the trustee of a REMIC trust, then that trustee must have power over the asset (i.e., debt, note or mortgage or DOT). If a Bank party is claiming to be a trustee over the asset, then the asset must have been bought, conveyed, sold to the t trustee to hold and manage in trust for the benefit of beneficiaries. Conveyance of an interest in a mortgage or other encumbrance requires that the grantor legally own it and that the party receiving it pay value for it.
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I have read the actual trust agreements that exist far from prying eyes of foreclosure defense lawyers. They specifically acknowledge that the trustee is getting, in name only, a conveyance that is (a) worthless since it does not include conveyance of the underlying obligation and (b) to hold for the sole benefit and subject to the direction of the investment bank that originated the securitization scheme. The investors who buy certificates are unsecured creditors, not beneficiaries.  I remind the reader that no such securitization scheme ever securitized the debt, note or mortgage of any residential homeowner.
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BOTTOM LINE: ASK FOR THE ACTUAL TRUST AGREEMENT — AND DON’T ACCEPT THE ARGUMENT THAT IT IS THE PSA.

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Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial and appellate attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.
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2 Responses

  1. The post is factually and legally wrong. It’s wrong because the basic premise is wrong, the author claims that ownership actually has relevance.

    BROWN V. DEP’T OF COMMERCE, 184 Wn.2d 509, 514, 359 P .3d 771 (2015); BAIN V. METRO. MORTG. GRP., INC.. 175 Wn.2d 83, 104, 285 P.3d 34 (2012);. NW. TR. SERVS., INC., 181 Wn. App. 484, 502, 326 P.3d 768 (2014), rev’d on other grounds, 183 Wn.2d 820, 355 P.3d 1100 (2015); (“Ownership of a note is irrelevant to the power to enforce that note.”).

  2. This is exactly what I have been say for a long time. For the exact reason mentioned in this post is why all the foreclosure cases the defense is cookie cutter or why a class action law suite could be filed against every trust / underwriter / to big to fail banks.

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