Construction trust fund statutes have been around for decades. At least 15 states have passed similar statutes. Other states, but not all, do not have an express statute but have interpreted state law to hold that payments received by a general contractor and deposited in a business account establishes a “trust fund.” See e.g., Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 7108.
The purpose of these laws is straightforward—protect contractors and suppliers against nonpayment for the labor and materials provided for the construction or repair of property. But while the purpose is straightforward, each state’s law differs by imposing different requirements, different privileges, and different remedies. This article provides an overview of how these statutes work as well as a sampling of important requirements and potential pitfalls that you should look out for when a construction trust fund statute applies to your project.