Applications under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958
Produced in partnership with Edward Reed and Charlotte Kynaston of Macfarlanes

The following Private Client practice note produced in partnership with Edward Reed and Charlotte Kynaston of Macfarlanes provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applications under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958
  • Background to the Variation of Trusts Act 1958
  • The court’s jurisdiction under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958
  • When not to make an application under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958
  • Why make an application under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958?
  • Other possible benefits of an application
  • Contentious applications
  • Practice and procedure
  • Application
  • Parties
  • More...

Applications under the Variation of Trusts Act 1958

The Variation of Trusts Act 1958 (VTA 1958) gives the court the jurisdiction to approve variations to the terms of a trust on behalf of beneficiaries who are unable to consent to the variation. It is primarily designed to be used in the typical scenario that the trust terms themselves contain no express power to vary the trust.

Background to the Variation of Trusts Act 1958

The roots of the statute are in the case, Saunders v Vautier. The court confirmed that when all the beneficiaries are adults with capacity, they have power together to amend the terms of the trust as they wish. Historically, the most common example of this has been where a life tenant and a remainderman decide to partition the trust fund between them rather than continue the trust until the death of the life tenant.

In most trusts, the beneficiaries cannot amend the terms of the trust in this way because they are not all adults with capacity. For example, in the simple case of a trust for a living settlor’s children and their spouses, there may be three classes of beneficiaries unable to consent—minor children, unborn future children of the settlor and unascertained future spouses of the children.

This will not matter where the trustees have power to vary the trusts, but it will prevent

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