FINANCE: A Declaration of Trust could provide peace of mind for cohabiting couples.

Tom Britten, an Associate in the Private Client team at Wansbroughs explains why cohabiting couples might want to consider the benefits of a Declaration of Trust.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the number of cohabiting couples (with or without children) continues to grow faster than married couples and lone parent families – an increase of 25.8% from 2008 to 2018. However, many cohabitees are not aware of the limited legal protection available to them if their relationship were to breakdown. It is important to realise that, when dealing with assets on the breakdown of a relationship, a cohabitee is not treated in the same way as a spouse.  This is often misunderstood and can leave one party at a disadvantage during what is already a difficult and emotional time.

One way to be clear about the extent of each cohabitee’s interest in the family home is to prepare a Declaration of Trust. This document confirms the proportions in which two or more individuals own a property and can reflect how the parties would like the net sale proceeds to be split, should the relationship breakdown.

A Declaration of Trust can be used to record both initial and future financial contributions made by all parties. If one party is contributing more than the other to the property, for example, by contributing the entirety of the deposit for a property purchase, they may wish to protect their extra contribution by stating that this amount must be repaid before the remaining equity is divided.

Nobody likes to plan for failure. However, a Declaration of Trust is a good way of ensuring that all cohabitees’ interests are recorded and protected and may even help to avoid or at least minimise the costs associated with a dispute if a relationship does break down.

Wansbroughs can provide advice regarding Declarations of Trust and how they can be used to provide peace of mind for all parties.  If you would like to discuss Declarations of Trust in more detail, please get in touch with us via email at

Minerva Studio
Author: Minerva Studio