Estate To Uses

An estate means an “interest in land”. An estate to uses, is short for “to such uses as the settlor may appoint”. 

In this case, we have a trust for a property. The Settlor, the owner transfers the property subject to certain conditions and restrictions. The person acquiring legal ownership is the Trustee who must hold the property for the benefit of the Beneficiary subject to the terms of the trust. 

The “to uses” deed was very common in Ontario until 1978. At that time, the ancient widow’s right to dower was abolished. But, up to that time husbands often acquired title as: 

“Robert Jones, To Uses”. 

Such a deed would avoid the right of Robert’s wife to dower. Basically, it meant “Robert Jones, in trust for Robert Jones”. 

A regular deed as: 

“Robert Jones”, would be subject to the right of Robert’s wife to dower. 

Subsequent to 1978, the deed to uses has essentially fallen into disuse, as there is no longer any need to eliminate dower claims. Dower rights have been replaced with the equal right of possession and certain other rights under the Family Law Act, and the Succession Law Reform Act effective 31 March 1978. 

However, as you will appreciate there are many titles which have not been altered or changed since March 31, 1978, so you are still likely to come across a deed to uses.

Brian Madigan LL.B, Broker

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