Purchasing a Property
What is a Declaration of Trust?
A Declaration of Trust is a legally binding document which sets out who owns the property, what proportion of the property they own, and whether anybody else has an interest in the property. The document can deal with all sorts of other matters including who pays the mortgage.
How do I own my property?
There are two ways to own a property with another person:
1. Joint Tenants
In the event of your death, your share is automatically left to the survivor – you get no choice over this. Also, if the property is sold during your lifetimes all the owners are entitled to an equal share of the sale proceeds.
2. Tenants in Common
The property belongs to you jointly, but you own a specific share of the property’s value which you can sell, or which can be left to your chosen beneficiary in your Will.
Contributing more money to the property than other owners
You should consider purchasing as tenants in common and having a Declaration of Trust to establish what share of any sale proceeds you are entitled to. This is particularly important if you and your co-owner are not married.
Contributing to the purchase without legal title
You can still enter into a Declaration of Trust with the owners to establish that you are entitled to a share of any sale proceeds.
We have already purchased the property
It is not too late; you can enter into a Declaration of Trust by agreement at any point.
What can happen if we do not enter into a Declaration of Trust?
If you make a greater contribution towards the property than any other owner, you may only get an equal share of any sale proceeds. If you contribute money but are not an owner, you risk losing your money altogether.
If there is subsequently a dispute over who is entitled to the sale proceeds, there are various ways to try and resolve the dispute such as mediation, the collaborative process or negotiations through solicitors. If no agreement is reached, court proceedings may be required to resolve the situation.
Resolving a dispute can be costly and time consuming and we would therefore recommend that a Declaration of Trust is entered into when purchasing a property.