“It’ll be yours one day!” Probably not if there isn’t a Will …
People make promises to one another all the time.
“This coin collection will be yours when I die.”
“You can have my car when I’ve finished with it.”
“I want you to have that painting.”
Some of these might sound familiar. You may even have been on the receiving end of this type of promise but can you actually (i.e. legally) count on a promise?
By far the best way to leave something for somebody when you die is to make a Will which will formally record who gets what. But what happens if the will doesn’t mention the coin collection, the car or the painting or, indeed, if there’s no Will at all?
In certain circumstances, the law can step in to give effect to a promise. However persuading a Court to make the award is tricky. You will have to be able to demonstrate than you genuinely believed the deceased intended to make that gift to you and that intension relied upon their promise.
Furthermore, you will need to demonstrate that relying upon that promise was to your detriment and that it would be unjust for a Court not to intervene and make that award.
Whilst the successful application of the law in this area is very fact specific; for example you may have devoted your adult life to working on your parents’ farm (at the expense of more lucrative opportunities) on the understanding the farm would pass to you upon your parents’ death. Alternatively you may have spent a great deal of time and money doing up a property on the basis that it would eventually pass to you.
Claims of this nature are not limited to family members or individuals who were financially dependent upon the deceased nor is it limited to what is considered to be “reasonable financial provision” as is the case in claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
This is a complex area of law and you will always benefit from taking legal advice as early as you can so you can decide whether bringing a claim would be worthwhile because the sooner you take advice, the more opportunity there is to structure everything in the way that will best protect your interest.
If you would like to discuss how to challenge a Will that has not delivered on promises you believe you had been made or have not provided what you were led to expect for any reason, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call us on 0114 276 5555.