Legal Eagle Column: How much do you ‘Trust’ your partner?

Jennifer Duckett, Private Client Solicitor at Neves Solicitors, talks about setting up a Declaration of Trust…

There are reportedly around 3.3 million cohabiting unmarried couples in England and Wales at the moment.

Up until recently, the law has significantly favoured the traditional married couple in terms of inheritance, property and pension rights.

Nevertheless, following a Supreme Court ruling in June 2018, civil partnerships have now been extended to mixed-sex couples meaning that should a mixed-sex couple choose to enter into a civil partnership, greater legal protection is available to them.

This article is not to encourage any snap decision weddings or civil partnerships, but only to give advice on the courses of action that may be beneficial for any co-habiting couples who choose not to marry or enter into a civil partnership, and who own property in joint names.

Supposing you contributed 80% of the purchase price towards a property but it is held in both your name and your partner’s name. There is a legal presumption that the property is owned in equal shares, meaning that if the property is sold and a dispute arises, the sale proceeds would be split equally.

To avoid this unfair consequence, I would suggest instructing a solicitor to draw up a declaration of trust. A declaration of trust is a legally binding document and would set out the equitable interest that each owner has in the property.

A declaration of trust will record the differences in both contributions and state how the net sale proceeds are to be divided.

An alternative situation many of us find ourselves in is having to help our children, who are often buying jointly with partners or friends, onto the property ladder.

You may make a contribution towards the purchase price and you may wish for this contribution to be protected for your own child in the event that their relationship with their partner or friend breaks down.

A declaration of trust can be used to protect your contribution, and there are also wider considerations to be made in these circumstances which your solicitor would be able to discuss with you.

I appreciate that discussing a declaration of trust may not be the most captivating conversation for the dinner table!

But, there can be significant financial risk in not having one and I would strongly recommend one for any person purchasing a property whereby any element of the purchase or ownership is not absolutely equal.

If you would like to set up a Declaration of Trust call me on 01908 304560 or email

Call Neves Solicitors on 01908 304560

This feature was published in the August 2019 issue of Celebrate:MK lifestyle magazine. Read the full magazine above or by clicking on this link.

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