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United Methodist Church

Understanding the Trust Clause

There are few issues in Church law more perplexing than understanding the ownership of Church property. This is even more true with respect to a local congregation that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.

Unfortunately, there is no specific answer to the ownership of property issue as the answer is based on an interpretation of the Methodist trust clause under state trust law.

Free guide to the UMC trust clause

In a nutshell, the free guide addresses the big issues contemplated by new local churches like yours, and will let you know when seeking local counsel is necessary.

While this guide will not answer all of your questions and should not be interpreted as providing legal advice, we hope you find it helpful as your local church embarks on a new journey. Please do not hesitate to contact Daniel P. Dalton directly to answer your specific questions.

State law and the UMC trust clause

There has been very little judicial guidance from state courts on the issue of ownership of property under the Methodist trust clause. Nonetheless, leading church property attorney Daniel P. Dalton has written a free downloadable guide providing analysis of the trust clause based on present day case law. The guide includes state-by-state analysis of how courts have interpreted the trust clause in each state.

The good news is that there are very few states that have truly examined the Methodist trust clause. The bad news is that you truly need to have someone guide you through the trust clause litigation process so that other Methodist Churches will not become beholden to “bad law” based on an errant judicial decision.

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