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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Ownership and income tax: Specific types of property: land and buildings - express trusts

For someone to claim a beneficial interest in land and buildings, there must be something in writing to prove it. Section 53(1)(b) of the Law of Property Act 1925 sets out the requirements for the creation of an express trust or interest in land and buildings:

“a declaration of trust respecting any land or any interest therein must be manifested and proved by some writing signed by some person who is able to declare such a trust or by his will.”

This says a trust of land needs to be ‘manifested’ in writing signed by the settlor, not that the declaration needs to be in writing. So the declaration itself could be oral provided there is evidence in writing signed by the settlor that the declaration is made. The evidence must show that a trust is intended to exist and the nature of the beneficial interests, for example a simple declaration (TSEM9520) by A that he holds the land on trust for B would suffice.

If you need advice on documentation said to be evidence of writing for the purposes of S53(1)(b), submit the papers to HMRC Trusts & Estates Technical Edinburgh.