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Family Law

Cohabitation Agreements and Declaration of Trusts – When should you get one?

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

After Sam and Phillip purchased their first home, Sam has been thinking. Sam contributed more money than Phillip to their new home, and Sam wonders about the ways in which she can protect the money she invested.

Sam has recently booked an appointment at Samuel Phillips Law with a member of the Family Team. Sam wants to know what her options are. Sam met with one of the friendly solicitors at Samuel Phillips Law and they explained her options are as follows:

Declaration of Trust

Declarations of Trust are usually considered when multiple people have a stake in a property and there are no legal arrangements in place between to determine who is entitled to what if the property is sold.

A Declaration of Trust is a legally binding document which can be drafted and signed before or after the purchase completes.

A Declaration of Trust can include provisions on the following:

  1. The amount each party contributed to the property;
  2. What percentage of the property each party owns;
  3. The purchase price of the property;
  4. In the event the property is sold, each parties contributions to legal fees, stamp duty and other costs of sale.

Sam could alleviate her concerns by entering into a Declaration of Trust with Phillip.

Phil would need to see his own solicitor to receive independent legal advice about entering into a Declaration of Trust with Sam.

Enter into a cohabitation agreement

In the event Sam was purchasing the property in her sole name and wished to protect her investment, she could ask Phillip to enter into a cohabitation agreement with her. A Cohabitation Agreement governs the relationship between two or more people who agree to live together.

A Cohabitation Agreement includes provision for the legal and beneficial interest of each party, it can also make provision for the other financial arrangements such as how bank accounts, debts, household bills and other financial commitments between the parties are handled if the relationship was to end.

Since Sam and Phillip jointly own their property, it would be advised that a Declaration of Trust is the best course of action. If it was the case that Sam owned the property solely, we would suggest a cohabitation agreement was entered into to avoid a potential Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (TOLATA) claim being made by Phillip.

If you would like to speak to any of our solicitors about the topics raised in this blog, please do not hesitate to contact our family team on

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