Washington Law Review


The law as to the construction of precatory words is not reducible to a formula which can be made to fit any particular case. In fact, it is hard more than to indicate an inclination or leaning of the courts in deciding such situations. With this preface in mind, we purpose to examine the early line of authorities, the modern trend at large, and the particular cases in Washington. Early English courts raised trusts on mere precatory words. The reason for this rule was perhaps because originally all trusts were at best only of precatory force, and so would most naturally be couched in words of entreaty and desire, then when trusts became enforced by law, since trusts had been more often created by precatory words, the courts treated all precatory words as imperative, deeming such to be the intent of the testator. The English courts, quite reasonably in view of the history of trusts, presumed that the words were but courteous commands.

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