Have you been promised that you will ultimately receive a share of a farm? Have you been denied that fair share despite devoting significant effort to working on the farm? Do you need to challenge a will to secure what you deserve?
Our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors specialise in contesting a will, particularly where they concern the inheritance of family farms. They have acted for numerous clients who grafted for years, sometimes decades, on their parents’ farms because they were promised a share of the farm as an inheritance, but for one reason or another have since been denied their promised benefit. They have assisted clients to challenge a will, and in some instances, challenge the effects of the laws of intestacy.
A growing trend
If you are affected by these issues, then you are not alone. In recent times, there has been quite an increase in the number of cases where it has been necessary to challenge a will in order to secure a rightful entitlement. We have seen cases where a surviving parent has re-married and chosen to provide the farm to the new spouse instead of the children that laboured on the farm for many years. And we have seen instances of children falling out with their parents and being deprived of their reward for a lifetime of labour, out of pure spite on the parent’s part. We have even seen cases where a will was actually made that provided the promised benefit, but for one reason or another was invalid and thus failed to achieve the desired results. All of these unfortunate circumstances are becoming more and more common, largely due to the changing nature of family circumstances.
Our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors specialise on contesting probate, and have had a number of successes in recent times. They have taken action to prevent estates from being completely distributed away from deserving family members. They have secured financial provision for the children of farmers and they have secured beneficial interests in farms.
Can I make a claim or challenge a will?
In order to successfully contest a will and receive a fair share of a farm, it is necessary to demonstrate 3 things: –
- There must be some promise or assurance from the farmer that you will inherit the farm, or a share of the farm, in return for your services.
- You must be able to show that you reasonably relied on this promise or assurance.
- You must also prove that you acted to your detriment due to your reliance on the promise.
The promise or assurance can take a number of different forms. It may be a specific agreement that inheriting a share of the farm in the future will be the reward for physical effort and exertion on the farm in the meantime. It may be an assurance repeated often over time that you will inherit the farm in return for working on it. It might be that a future interest in the farm was offered as an alternative after you have demanded a fair wage for the efforts that you have made.
Whatever form it takes, it must be reasonable for you to rely on this promise or assurance. Legal rights rarely arise from something said in jest. The maker of the promise must have been serious about its effects. You must be able to demonstrate that the words were used to persuade you to devote effort to the farm, instead of working elsewhere or otherwise securing your own life independent of the farm.
It is also necessary to show that you actually performed your side of the bargain. Working minimal hours in return for a fair wage may not be enough. Daily hard work for little or no immediate reward over a number of years is usually the norm. You must be able to credibly say that you deserve to be compensated for your efforts.
If you can demonstrate these 3 things, then you likely have a strong case.
What will I receive if I challenge a will?
In such circumstances, it is necessary to consider what you can achieve. In some cases that have been determined by the courts, the claimant has been awarded a sum of money as fair compensation for the effort that has been made. This is generally calculated as a fair hourly rate for the typical hours worked each day over the entire period of time. When efforts have been considerable, and they usually are where farming is concerned, that “fair compensation” can amount to a significant sum of money. In other cases, the courts have chosen to enforce the terms of the promise instead. So, if the entire farm was promised, then the entire farm may well be the result.
In a recent case, one judge suggested that the greater the amount of effort made, and the longer the period of time over which that effort was made, the more likely the court will implement the terms of the promise. The less the effort, and the shorter the timescale, the more likely that fair compensation will be provided instead.
But if the 3 factors above can be proven, then one of these two results is likely to be achieved.
What must I pay to achieve this?
Our panel of expert contested probate solicitors is prepared to conduct approved cases on a No Win No Fee basis.
If you have been affected by an issue such as this, then contact us today. The quicker our contested probate solicitors can challenge the will, the sooner you will secure your entitlement.