3.2 Theoretical Underpinning
A spendthrift trust has been defined as “a trust that restrains voluntary and involuntary alienation of all or any of the beneficiaries’ interests.” Restatement of Trusts 3d § 58. “The Validity of Spendthrift Trusts,” 34 A.L.R. 2d 1335: “[T]his particular type of trust, created with the view of providing a fund for the maintenance or use of another, and at the same time securing it against his improvidence, incapacity, misfortune, by means of such a restrictive provision, to which the term spendthrift trust was originally and is now generally applied…” Spendthrift trusts are upheld because the donor of the trust has the right to dispose of his or her property:
Now common honesty requires, of course, that every one should pay his debts, and the policy of the law for centuries has been to subject the property of a debtor of every kind which he holds in his own right, to the payment of his debts. He has as owner of such property the right to dispose of it as he pleases, and his interest is, therefore, liable for the payment of his debts. But a cestui que trust does not hold the estate or interest in his own right; he has but an equitable and qualified right to the property or to its income, to be held and enjoyed by the beneficiary on certain terms and conditions prescribed by the founder of the trust. The legal title is in the trustee, and the cestui que trust derives his title to the income through the instrument by which the trust is created. The donor or devisor, as the absolute owner of the property, has the right to prescribe the terms on which his bounty shall be enjoyed, unless such terms be repugnant to the law. And it is no answer to say that the gift of an equitable right to income to the exclusion of creditors is against the policy of the law. This is begging the question. Why is it against the policy of the law? What sound principle does it violate? The creditors of the beneficiary have no right to complain, because the founder of the trust did not give his bounty to them. And if so, what grounds have they to complain because he has seen proper to give it in trust to be received by the trustee and to be paid to another, and not to be liable while in the hands of the trustee to the creditors of the cestui que trust. All deeds and wills and other instruments by which such trusts are created, are required by law to be recorded in the public offices, and creditors have notice of the terms and conditions on which the beneficiary is entitled to the income of the property. They know that the founder of the trust has declared that this income shall be paid to the object of his bounty to the exclusion of creditors, and if under such circumstances they see proper to give credit to one who has but an equitable and qualified right to the enjoyment of property, they do so with their eyes open. It cannot be said that credit was given upon such a qualified right to the enjoyment of the income of property, or that creditors have been deceived or mislead; and if the beneficiary is dishonest enough not to apply the income when received by him to the payment of his debts, creditors have no right to complain because they cannot subject it in the hands of the trustee to the payment of their claims, against the express terms of the trust.
Smith v. Towers, 69 Md. 77, 88 (1888) (as quoted in DuVall v. McGee, 375 Md. 476 (2003)).