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HMRC internal manual

Capital Gains Manual

Land: disposal of interest in land: declaration of trust

It is still possible to transfer an interest in land by way of an oral declaration of trust. For example, if an individual owns the freehold interest in a piece of land, the beneficial ownership of that interest can be transferred by the individual declaring that the interest is held on trust for another person. Although the Law of Property Act 1925 requires that such a declaration must also be evidenced in writing at some stage for the trust to be enforceable.

However the disposal of a subsisting equitable interest held on trust may only be made in writing by the beneficial owner of that interest; it cannot be validly disposed of by an oral declaration which is subsequently manifested in writing. For example, if A holds land on trust for B and B then declares a trust in favour of C of that subsisting equitable interest so that A effectively holds the land on trust for C, that transfer would need to be in writing at the time of transfer to be effective.