I want to leave the farm to my son who works with me but am worried my other four children could challenge my Will after I am gone.  

I came across this article recently in the media and reply given by a solicitor as best as he could given the facts as presented. 

We deal with Wills Challenge cases all the time .It’s the most viewed area on our Website . What  comes up is where the disappointed members of a family believe they have a right to automatically claim from their parents’ estate.  

In this particular article the issue raised concerned the son who has worked on the farm and how to benefit other siblings .

First thing to clear up is Children have no automatic right to anything .   Only spouses have an entitlement under the Succession Act 1965 provisions.  

Let’s get that straight at the start . 

I emphasise this as it’s the first fact children ,now usually adults ,have to understand .

So in this case one son works the land with his father .

This son has a clear expectation having worked and postponed other aspects of his life in order to work the farm and clearly, is suited to the farming life.

  If his father for any reason decided not to allow that son to continue to farm the land after the father’s time, the son would have a valid claim under a legal doctrine called Estoppel.  In plain terms, that means that he dedicated his life on the basis that he was promised the land and if that was not given to him then he would claim in the Courts to have the farm made over to him.  

The issue which was raised in this question is what about the situation of the other children and had they any entitlements ?  In reality no .

On that basis, perhaps the best solution to this would be that the father would inform each of his children in writing ideally as well as speaking to them that he will leave the farm to the particular son who was farming . 

 The benefit of that would be subject to a provison that the farming son would be charged when he takes possession of the farm at some future date with perhaps a cash payment to each of the other members of the family.

 The  value of which to be determined by the ability of the farming son to borrow and what would be reasonable in the circumstances. 

The benefit of this approach is firstly that if a challenge was brought to say that the family were not provided for, a Court could clearly point out that they were provided for but they simply did not like the amount that was given to each of them. 

If there is anything we can assist you with relating to this article please contact us to discuss .

We deal with Wills Challenge matters on a countrywide basis .