Resulting trust: dealing with mortgage contributions and liability (Singapore)

Lim Geok Swan v Lim Shook Luan ([2012] SGHC 18) concerned entitlement to the proceeds of sale of a property owned jointly by a mother (the plaintiff) and her daughter (the defendant). They were joint tenants in law but the daughter had contributed around 90% of the purchase price giving rise to a presumption of a resulting trust. The mother argued that the presumption could be rebutted because of an alleged agreement that they were to have equal beneficial interests. The burden of proof was on the mother and she failed to satisfy the court that this agreement had been made; the beneficial interest was divided as to 10% to the mother and 90% to the daughter.

There are a number of interesting aspects in the analysis. The judge hints at the possibility of a presumption of advancement in respect of transfers from daughter to mother (para. 41). The daughter had paid all of the mortgage instalments but the mortgage was in joint names. The mortgage payments were entirely credited to the daughter because there was no expectation or likelihood that the mother would ever be called upon to contribute to the mortgage payments (para. 73).

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