Son fails to overturn father's will to inherit extra land

A businessman has failed to overturn his father’s will, so he could inherit farming land and other substantial assets.

The High Court heard that the father had built up a farming and haulage business during his working life and acquired several parcels of land.

The son worked for the business and lived for free in a company house. He became a partner and when the business was dissolved in 2009, he received the haulage company and the property.

He claimed that his father had told him that he would also inherit the farming business and extra land. However, the following year the father made a will leaving his remaining land and farming business to his wife and two daughters.

The son challenged the will on the basis that the promises his father had made had persuaded him to work for low wages, believing that he would later be compensated by his inheritance.

The court ruled against him. The judge said that while there was no doubt that the son believed he would inherit the farm, there was no evidence that the father had made any assurances. On the contrary, the evidence suggested that he had not been prepared to discuss his intentions.

The son had been paid regularly, at the same or a higher rate as every other worker, and the father had bought cars for him, which were recorded as large bonuses amounting to several times his annual salary.

The son and his family had also lived rent-free at the father’s property and he had become a partner in the family business. In due course, he had received that property and had received the haulage business.

The father had not acted to the son’s detriment and the will should stand.

Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of wills and probate.

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