Daughter in farming family wins inheritance claim against brother

We have successfully represented Mrs N in a claim against her late mother’s estate under the Inheritance Act. The defendants to the disputed will claim were the two professional executors and Mrs N’s brother, Mr S.

Mrs N came from a farming family in the north of England. Typical of a farming family, the dairy farm, which was the main asset of the estate, was left to the son, Mr S. The Will provided for Mrs N to receive a legacy of £20,000 and for the residuary estate to pass to Mr S. There was a covenant that if Mr S sold the farm within five years of his mother's death, he was to pay Mrs S and one other sister an additional £50,000 each.

Our client's mother left a statement explaining her intentions behind her Will, which were to ensure that the dairy farm remained in the family. However, Mrs N lived in the farmhouse whilst her brother had built a property on the farmland for him and his family. Mrs N and Mr S had an extremely acrimonious relationship and living within metres of each other was becoming unbearable.

We argued that it was indisputable that Mrs N had been maintained by her mum. In particular she had been provided with rent free accommodation and her outgoings had been heavily subsidised.

Mr S in response contended that Mrs N imposed herself on her mother as opposed to being dependent on her.

The estate was worth in excess of £1 million. During negotiations Mr S offered to buy a property for Mrs N to live in, rent free, for the remainder of her life. Mrs N rejected that offer as she wished to sever all ties with her brother and quite understandably did not want him to effectively be her landlord.

Slee Blackwell partners Naomi Ireson and Roderick Moore represented Mrs N at a mediation. Roderick is a barrister and specialises in dealing with such disputes often working on a no win - no fee basis. The mediation resulted in a settlement being reached, thereby avoiding the costs of a contested trial. Mrs N secured a significant settlement sum which enabled her to purchase a property of her choice outright, in her own name and without a mortgage together with a lump sum for her free enjoyment. Mrs N also recovered payment of her full legal costs.

If you require assistance with challenging a will or making an Inheritance Act claim and would benefit from a free initial assessment of your case then call us on 0808 139 1599 or email details of your case to us for review.