The Importance of Declarations of Trust
News article published on: 5th November 2018
The recent decision in the case of Culliford v Thorpe  EWHC 426 (Ch) serves as a reminder to cohabiting unmarried couples of the importance of agreeing a declaration of trust where their interests in a property are shared.
In this case a co-habiting couple, Mr C and Mr T agreed that a property which was in Mr C’s sole name was to be shared between them yet nothing was put in writing. Mr C subsequently died leaving no will and there then ensued a battle between Mr T and Mr C’s estate. The estate issued possession proceedings requiring Mr T to move out of the property. They claimed he had no interest in the property and Mr T was only living in the property as Mr C had permitted him to do so.
On the other hand, Mr T claimed that he had a beneficial interest in the property and there was a common intention that the property was to be shared. He relied on the argument of the “common intention constructive trust”. This can arise where both parties intended to share a property but where nothing is put in writing. The difficulty Mr T experienced was that the person who could verify his story had passed away and therefore there was nobody to corroborate the common intention.
Nevertheless such cases are very fact specific and after considering the evidence the Court agreed that as a matter of fact there had been a common intention that the property was to be shared between Mr C and Mr T.
Mr T was lucky but the best way to avoid such litigation is to ensure that your intentions are set out in writing in a Declaration of Trust which is signed by both parties.
Our property lawyers at Osbornes Law can assist you to draft a Declaration of Trust. To speak with our property lawyers on this or any other issue contact us by calling on 020 7485 8811 or fill in our online enquiry form.