Farming Son challenges parents Wills whilst they are still alive25-Apr-2019

By Gillian Knowles, Head of Wills, Trusts & Estates

The latest case of Guest v Guest is another example of a Proprietary Estoppel claim involving a farm.

This case involved the Guest family comprising of mother, father and three children. The dairy farm in question was owned by the mother and father from 1982 onwards, one son worked on the farm throughout this time (receiving little financial reward). Eventually, in 2015, the son was admitted into the farm partnership.

After the business relationship soured, the parents changed their Wills and disinherited the farming son, he claimed the changes to the Wills were unfair on the basis of proprietary estoppel. The Court held that the son did have a valid claim for an interest in the farm based on the assurances made to him by his parents over the years and his continued work on the farm in reliance of those promises.

The son was awarded a lump sum payment equating to 50% of the value of the farming business and also an amount equating to 40% of the market value of the land and farm buildings.

“We have seen a big rise in proprietary estoppel claims concerning farms and land owners. It is vital that farming families seek expert advice when making Wills and decisions about succession. Most families’ main concern is the continuation of a viable business and sadly in the Guest case, given the large award, the established farm business has now been lost. Clients need to take advice from someone who understands an agricultural business and how succession law and tax planning interact with their particular circumstances”.  
Gillian Knowles, Head of Wills, Trusts & Estates

For more advice about making a Will including decisions about succession, please contact a member of the Wills, Trusts & Estates Department at Cullimore Dutton Solicitors on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.