Co-ownership presumption

H and W contract in 2003 to buy a property for £1,800 from a trust of which they are trustees. The contract provides that the purchase monies may remain outstanding. H dies in 2017 when the property is worth £750,000. Seemingly as the doctrine of conversion still applies for land contracts the trustees hold on trust - but are H and W joint tenants or tenants in common ? The contract is silent on the point - although as a matter of contract the responsibility for completing the contract if required would seem to fall on W.

Roger Hancock

In the absence of words of severance, H and W would be joint tenants.

However, has the self-dealing rule been dis-applied in the trust?

If not, I am not sure that H and W, and now W, can enforce the contract without either the consent of the court or of the beneficiaries (if all in existence and sui juris).

Even if W completes the contract, what is the limitation period, if any, for a beneficiary to seek to void the underlying transaction?

What advice, if any, did H & W obtain in 2003 on their ability to purchase trust property?

Paul Saunders

Not withstanding the increases in property prices during the last 15 years
it seems to me that an apparent increase in value of £748,200 over
approximately 14 years could, as Paul correctly infers, lead to the
possibility of some awkward questions being asked about the price paid in

Hopefully there are some very good justifiable reasons for the price paid
and subsequent increase in value and the trust remaindermen will also be
the sole beneficiaries of W’s estate.

Depending upon whether or not the purchase price can be justified and the
purchase contract was exchanged before 10 July 2003 and completed before 2
December 2003 Stamp Duty or Stamp Duty Land Tax liabilities will need to be
considered if the correct 2003 value was in excess of £60,000.

Andrew M Mortimer