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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Legal Background to Trusts and Estates: Putting real property into trust

Settled Land Act 1925

Real property means freehold land. The word ‘real’ has nothing to do with the opposite of imaginary. It does not include leasehold land, which is a chattel real(TSEM6015).

Any change of ownership of real property must normally be in writing.

Will trust

The relevant clauses in the will satisfy the requirement for the change to be in writing.The written, vesting assent (TSEM6072) of the executors ranks as a conveyance. It is kept with and forms part of the title documents.

Statutory trust (TSEM6120)

The written, vesting assent (TSEM6072) of the administrator ranks as a conveyance. It isattached to the title deeds.

Trust between the living (inter-vivos)

The Settled Land Act 1925 requires two documents

  • a vesting deed conveying the land to the life tenant or statutory owner as legal owner
  • a trust instrument, setting out beneficial interests, appointing the trustees and declaring the trusts.

This need for two documents is known as the curtain principle. It enables the trustees to prove their ownership, whilst not divulging details of the beneficiaries.