Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Article: Ministerial Acts

Estate planningRachel Leo recently published an article entitled, Ministerial Acts, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law ejournal (2021). Provided below is the abstract to the Article. 

Cases sometimes describe some intermediaries as only acting ‘ministerially’. Mention of ministerial agents occurs in a wide range of different contexts. It has been used to refer to secretaries who merely physically deliver documents, an amanuensis who aids physically impaired individuals in signing documents, and stockbrokers who take specific instructions from clients in purchasing shares. Ministerial agency is also raised for different purposes. Sometimes, the question is whether the ministerial agent’s acts can be treated as the principal’s. It is also relevant to whether the purported delegation of ministerial acts contravenes the principle that delegated powers cannot be further delegated. Other questions concern whether the ministerial agent can be liable in conversion, for knowing receipt, or in unjust enrichment claims, or whether the ministerial agent owes fiduciary duties in respect of ministerial acts.

The aim of this paper is to investigate the concept of ministerial agency and its usefulness It focuses on three questions: (i) when does an intermediary act only ministerially?; (ii) is there a uniform conception of ministerial agency across different contexts and for different purposes?; and (ii) if not, should we be more precise in our usage of the term?


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