Promise Not Honoured in a Will

Over the course of an individual’s lifetime, they may enter into informal agreements or make promises to a person to leave them an interest in a property or land when they die. Where a person doesn’t honour that arrangement in their will, it can give rise to a claim against their estate by a party on the basis of proprietary estoppel.

What is Proprietary Estoppel?

Proprietary estoppel is a legal principle that provides a remedy where one party does something, or declines to do something, because they rely on a promise made to them. If the promise is subsequently broken and the reliance on that promise has had a detrimental effect on the party who relied on that promise then that person will be in a position to consider a claim.

It can be difficult - and an emotive experience - when taking legal action in a case relating to somebody’s will, especially if they are a friend or family member. That’s why our team handles matters sensitively and professionally to ensure you are provided with the specialist advice you need, tailored to your specific circumstances.

To speak to a solicitor about a promise that was not honoured in a will, get in touch with us today. Simply call us on 0345 872 6666 or fill in our online enquiry form to request a callback.

Reasons for Making a Claim

Generally speaking, despite what somebody has said during their lifetime, they are free to leave whatever they want to whoever they want in a will. However, there are limited circumstances when it may be possible to bring a claim against an estate so a promise can be honoured. A party may have a claim against an estate through proprietary estoppel if they can show that:

  • the deceased made a clear and unambiguous promise to them during their lifetime that they would leave property or land to them. This can be expressed or implied, but it must be clear that the party making the promise intended for the promise to have an effect between both parties; and
  • they relied on that promise or altered their position to their own financial detriment; and
  • that the reliance on that promise was reasonable.

For a claim against an estate for an unfulfilled promise to be successful, it must be clear that it would be unfair to not grant relief.

Examples of instances where such a claim may be successful include where somebody has given up their job in order to provide care to an individual, or worked in the family business, or made alterations to the deceased’s property during their lifetime.

Assessing the value of such a claim is difficult, particularly where a person has given up a position of employment to accommodate the deceased. In this situation, there will not only be a loss of salary at the time to consider but also the loss of any future job prospects, as well as any associated costs that come with making a claim for a promise that has not been honoured in a will.

As such, expert advice will be required to properly value the loss caused by relying on the promise. We assist parties in both bringing and defending such claims.

Why Choose JMW?

Making a claim for a promise that has not been honoured in a will can be stressful, but our solicitors will ensure the process is as clear and straightforward as possible for you.

The Wills, Trusts and Inheritance Disputes team is highly experienced in this area of law and have received professional accreditation through the Association of Contentious Trusts and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), also having affiliate membership with the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP). This includes membership of the Special Interest Group for Contentious Trusts and Estates.

Talk to Us

If you believe a promise has not been honoured in a will and you want to make a claim, get in touch with our team today for help and advice. Contact us by calling 0345 872 6666 or fill in our online contact form to let us know you would like to hear from us.

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