It is said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but for legal purposes the language of trusts is also subject to the security of certainty.
Indeed, there are three such certainties. Trusts can be contentious, and in order for them to be upheld, there are three certainties required to ensure validity.
Firstly, there must be ‘certainty of intention’: this requires evidence that the settlor – the one who sets up the trust – intended such a trust to begin with.
There is no specific wording needed, but the instructions to the trustees must be easily identifiable as the instructions to the trustees. In other words, a particular person must be designated as being in charge of the assets of another person, the beneficiary. Interestingly, the use of the word ‘trust’ is not required or even necessarily preferred; specificity is what matters.
Secondly, there must be ‘certainty of subject matter’, meaning that the exact property or assets to be held on trust must be clearly defined, and that the interests of each beneficiary must also be carefully delineated so that the trustee knows precisely how to manage the trust.
Thirdly, there must be ‘certainty of objects’: in other words, it must be clear who the beneficiaries are. If the trustee were to distribute assets to a party not clearly named as a beneficiary, they could be made personally liable to replace the lost assets.
Deviation from any of these three principles could result in ‘uncertainty’, leading to the trust being vitiated and beneficiaries potentially losing out on money or property that should have been owed to them. In such a case, the property that was intended to be part of a trust will revert to the original owner.
Vardags Limited is a limited company trading as Vardags, Company No 7199468, registered in England and Wales, having its registered office at 10 Old Bailey, London EC4M 7NG. Vardags is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 535955). Its VAT number is 99 001 7230.
Vardags uses the term ‘Partner’ as a professional title only, to describe a Senior Solicitor, Employee or Consultant with relevant experience, expertise and qualifications (whether legally qualified or otherwise) to merit the title. Our Partners are not partners in the legal sense. They are not liable for the debts, liabilities or obligations of Vardags Limited. Similarly, the term ’Director’ is a professional title only, to describe a non-legally qualified employee or consultant of Vardags with relevant experience, expertise and qualifications to merit the title. It does not necessarily imply that the relevant individual is a director of Vardags Limited.
A list of the directors of Vardags Limited and a list of the names of those using the title of ’Director’ and ’Partner’ together with their official status is available for inspection at Vardags’ registered office.