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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

Life interests in possession: meaning

An interest which is primarily defined by reference to a life, although it may terminateon the happening of an event during that life, is a life interest. An example of such aninterest is where property is held in trust to pay income to a widow during her life oruntil she remarries.

The three examples which follow are not life interests, because they are not defined byreference to a life, but a specific period. They are however interests in possession

  1. A trust to pay income to A for ten years and then for B absolutely is not a life interest; if A should die after five years his interest will not cease but will pass to his estate.

  2. A trust to pay income to A until he attains the age of twenty-five if he lives until then is not a life interest, as A’s interest is not primarily defined by reference to a life, but his 25th birthday.

  3. An absolute vested interest where the person with the interest is not absolutely entitled as against the trustee because of the principle in Crowe v Appleby, see CG37540, is not a life interest.