Options for reluctant remainderman


A remainderman for a life interest trust, who doesn’t want to receive the property of which the trust comprises, but wishes it to go wholly to a sibling. The remainderman believes they were only named in the original will at all due to the sibling having been insolvent at the time of its writing.

The trust has come to an end with the death of the life tenant, but the life tenant’s spouse (also the sole trustee) is understood to be unwilling to carry out their responsibilities as trustee following the life tenant’s death, because they don’t wish to leave the property (though no provision was made for them to remain there on the death of the life tenant).

The property has therefore not been assented, and has never in fact been registered with the Land Registry. The trustee is not believed to have undertaken any administration of the trust (they did not appoint a second trustee when a second named person declined the role and there is understood to be no documentation related to the trust other than the original will).

Three options have been suggested for the passing of the property to the sibling:

  1. Trustee assents the property directly to the sibling at the request of the remainderman.

  2. Trustee assents the property to the remainderman who then gifts the property to the sibling.

  3. Remainderman complete a Deed of Variation to assign their beneficial interest (as they don’t have legal ownership) to their sibling, giving the sibling a route to pursue legal ownership. More than 2 years has elapsed since the death of the life tenant (and, too, of the individual whose will created the trust), but consideration of this for tax purposes would not be being sought.

Option 2 brings the property into the legal ownership of the remainderman, something they prefer to avoid - concerned about jeopardising first time buyer status for temporary ownership in a property that they do not intend to benefit from.

Options 1 and 3 don’t appear to bring the property into their ownership, but unsure whether there are possible or likely pitfalls or complications for the remainderman more in one or other of those options?

The Trustee assenting does not look like something that can be relied on imminently.

The remainderman is also concerned about personal liability for any harm that may come to the trustee (or anyone else) as the result of the property’s bad repair, whilst the trustee remains occupant. But as the property hasn’t been assented to the remainderman, it is thought they don’t have liability as are not yet legal owner? Indeed it could be deemed that the property is currently being withheld from the remainderman by the trustee.

Grateful for any thoughts.

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