My name is not on the legal title of a property. Could I have an interest in the value of the property and what can I do to protect it?
If you are living with your partner but only their name is on the legal title to the property, they will usually be entitled to all of the value of the property because they are legal owner. However, your partner may hold a share of the property “on trust” for you, if you have an interest in equity (i.e. an interest in the value) in that property. You may have acquired an interest in equity if you have made a financial contribution towards the deposit or mortgage repayments, or your partner has promised you a share of the house and you have relied on this promise to your own detriment, for example by selling your own property.
You can protect your interest in equity by entering into a written deed with your partner (as the legal owner of the property), known as a “declaration of trust”. This deed must meet certain legal requirements to be valid. One of these requirements is for a third party to be present whilst you and your partner sign the deed and to sign the deed themselves. The idea is that this third party can then give unbiased evidence if there was a dispute in the future about the document. Whilst this witness can be related to you or your partner, we strongly recommend that you ask an independent third party - such as a mutual friend, colleague or even a neighbour - to take on this role. If you are taking the time and effort to protect your interest in equity, you may as well follow best practice, especially when it doesn’t come at any extra cost!
For the vast majority of people, their home is one of their most valuable assets. If you are unsure of your position or are currently looking for a new home with your partner, get in touch with one of our family specialists, to make sure you interest is protected.
Author: Hannah Lewis