Right of life tenant beneficiary

If a trust in a Will gives a person (i.e. spouse) a life interest in a share of property, and the clause states that the life tenant has 1) a right to the income; and 2) the right to live in the property or any replacement property, what right does the life tenant have - if any - to request that the trustees purchase a replacement property (assuming that the trust is silent on this point)?

I understand that under TOLATA the property could not be sold - if the life tenant is a co-owner and / or has a beneficial interest - without the life tenant’s consent, but can the life tenant compel sale of the property and purchase of a (suitable) replacement?

Owen Mason
Vermeylen Law

s8 of the Trustee Act 2000 provides “(1) A trustee may acquire freehold or leasehold land in the United Kingdom (a) as an investment (b) for occupation by a beneficiary or © for any other reason. (2) “Freehold or leasehold land” means— (a) in relation to England and Wales, a legal estate in land, (b) in relation to Scotland— (i) the estate or interest of the proprietor of the dominium utile or, in the case of land not held on feudal tenure, the estate or interest of the owner or (ii) a tenancy, and © in relation to Northern Ireland, a legal estate in land, including land held under a fee farm grant (3) For the purpose of exercising his functions as a trustee, a trustee who acquires land under this section has all the powers of an absolute owner in relation to the land”

Julian Cohen

Simons Rodkin

If the Trust states right to income and to live there or “in a replacement property” then it has already covered that a move is possible. Most clauses do cover a move. any surplus funds after the move would be invested with the income going to the life tenant for life. capital and property with any income post death to remainderman in due course.

Maria Goodacre
Bells Solicitors Ltd

I hope your query is now answered.

Ruksana Kaskar
Hamilton Davies LLP

But nothing above gives the life tenant power to demand that the trustees sell and replace the property. That remains in their discretion, subject of course to their duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries etc.

Andrew Goodman
Osborne Clarke LLP

Hi Julian and Maria,

Thank you very much for your responses.

All the best,

Owen Mason
Vermeylen Law