Contentious Case in Which Brothers Are Victorious in Farm Inheritance Dispute

Following the death of the deceased, who died in intestate, his estranged daughter naturally inherited his estate.

However, problems arose when both a Mathew and James Will, spoke of the deceased promise to them that they would inherit some of the estate. This was due to Mathew having worked on the farm for more than two decades, and James promised the land his home was built on.

During the Court case in which the brothers were awarded 50 acres of the farm, plus the associated outbuildings, which were said to be worth £350,00, after being promised for years that they would inherit land from the deceased after his death, although none of these promised were made in writing.

However, it also became apparent that the deceased began rebuilding his relationship with his daughter, and informed Mathew that he intended to leave the farmhouse, worth £150,000 to her.

Upon the deceased death, the estranged daughter informed the brothers that her father had intended for her to have the entire farm, due to the pair making business plans before his death. Both brothers challenged this due to the fact that their livelihoods were based solely on the farm. The deceased’s promises could not be rescinded.

This case is slightly unusual, in that it involved long term friends instead of family, as is usual in these types of claims.

Some points to note, the deceased had told the brothers on many occasions, that one day the land would be theirs.

Many witnesses had to give evidence about the brothers working on the land, and about the promises that were made to them over many years.

It goes to show the outcome of a case must be determined on a case-by-case basis, and there is not one size that fits all solutions.

It also highlighted the importance placed upon witness evidence, and how these types of cases are facts specific, and require the judge to make findings of fact based on how he perceives the witnesses.

In this instance the Court clearly gave significant weight to the witnesses credibility, and how they present at trial.

It should be noted that, ensuring your estate planning is in order to prevent unfortunate situations like this has proved vital.

Perhaps the lessons to be learnt, is that once again, if the deceased had made a will to ensure the brothers and his estranged daughter were provided for as he intended, this lengthy case and trial could have been avoided, together with the very considerable costs thereon.

If you require help in connection with any of these matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.