Challenging the Validity of a Will

In the recent case of Suggitt v Suggitt & Anor [2011] EWHC 903(Ch)(23rd April 2011) it was held by the High Court that if you have relied on a promise made to you that you will gain a particular asset upon the death of that person and the person then makes a Will contradicting this, you are able to challenge this through the Courts, and in this case, it can be successful.

This principle is known as proprietary estoppel.  In the above case, a son worked for his father for a number of years on his father’s Farm and was not paid a wage to do so.  This is on the basis that the son would have his accommodation and food provided to him and ultimately upon the death of his father he would receive the Farm.

In this case, the father executed a Will in March 1997.  In his Will he bequeathed the entirety of his estate to Caroline, one of his four children.  There was, however, evidence to suggest that his only son, John, had been promised over the years that he would receive the Farm upon the death of his father.  He farmed the land based on this assumption.  His father then passed away on the 25th October 2009 leaving John with nothing from his estate.

The Judge ordered that John, the deceased’s son, should have the farmland and one of the farm houses to live in.  The remainder of the estate stayed with Caroline.

It is therefore the case that, if you have acted in a particular way with the belief that you would eventually financially gain from the action, you may be entitled to challenge this, if the “promise” has been broken.

For further information please contact our Private Client Department at MKB Solicitors LLP.


Louise Moran

MKB Solicitors LLP

July 2011