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MIL’s will ambiguous. A large parcel of land not even mentioned - residue? Agricultural.(17 Posts)
MIL’s will is worded as follows: - I give my property known as (address) including all buildings and dwellings erected thereon and all land associated thereto together with all my personal chattels. She then goes onto list the beneficiaries she has gifted her property to.
The problem is that there is a parcel of land not at the address she has mentioned in her will. It’s in another village 4 miles away and is a 50 acre lump. My partner relies on this land for his livelihood. We recently had 2 solicitors interpret the will. They both thought that the land not mentioned in the will was residue. The residuary clause states that OH’s sister receives the residue of the estate. There are two other beneficiaries (OH’s brother and nephew - OH gets on with neither and BIL has already inherited once when their father died suddenly before OH was born).
OH is terrified it will end up in court despite being told he will be looked upon favourably.
He doesn’t trust solicitors.
Was the house address listed a farm and is the other parcel of land used for the same farming business?
Yes it’s a farm and the other parcel of land is used for the farming business which was gifted to OH in her will.
I should add that his sister has said if the land is hers, she will split it with OH and allow him to farm her half.
OH feels that this is only one interpretation of the will and the ‘all land associated thereto’ means all land including this parcel but finds it odd that she hasn’t specifically mentioned it too. If it’s a mistake it seems like an obvious one. This will was drawn up at a solicitor’s office with witness’.
Things are getting nasty at the moment with OH’s brother. He’s had the best of everything and had bullied and controlled OH and MIL for a long time. OH worked for years without a proper wage. Ourselves, SIL & BIL live in properties mentioned in the will. currently OH and our 4 children in a 2 bed house while BIL and his partner are in a 4 bed (they own equal shares in each other’s houses - they don’t each own a house if you understand where I’m coming from?)
Is the MIL still alive or is it going through probate?
MIL died over 3 years ago. Probate has been granted it’s just been left to the executors to distribute
Seems fairly straightforward then and you have had two opinions from solicitors so their word must be very compelling.
Yes, it’s compelling but the other beneficiary will disagree and get his own interpretation and take it further 😩 OH is worried that it will end up in court and we’ll lose everything.
This is a complex area. If you have not already done so you need to seek your own advice from a solicitor with expertise in agricultural inheritance claims.
Surely your dh can swap his share of the other land so he owns the farm completely?
The executor needs to look at the notes from the solicitor who drafted the will to see what your MIL intended - that should be conclusive legally.
If the executor refuses, your husband can contact the solicitor himself to ask the question - it's called a Larke v Nugus letter. The solicitor has a duty to respond and not charge for their time. There is law society guidance about this - the idea is to stop matters going to court necessarily
@FloraPostIt there are no notes with the will, we’ve checked 😩
In her will she has accounted for all bank accounts, personal chattels, buildings, dwellings, business, stock, machinery and vehicles and land at the address stated.
She wanted all the residue to be ‘sold or retained’ by the executors to pay any monetary gifts (to one daughter and three grandchildren), funeral expenses, legal expenses etc and whatever was left went to SIL. There’s potentially 20k to come out of this ‘residual’ so surely this is the parcel of land not mentioned. That’s explained in layman’s terms. I’m not sure how it’s been missed for so long and after having several conveyancers, solicitors and land agents look at it!
Apologies for drip feeding, SIL and BIL have already signed the paperwork for the land registry, OH hasn’t signed yet so it can’t be sent off and registered into their names. SIL is now worries that she shouldn’t have signed it and that it’s legally binding and an agreement that she agrees with how the land should be distributed. This has just come to light recently. Surely another can be drawn up?
OP, I don't know whether this will help but what information can you pull together to clearly demonstrate that all the land is treated as one 'farm' even though it is spread over two sites?
Is there 1 basic payment claim, 1 number. Does your partner have stock, do all the movement records fall under one farm? Waste exemption licenses? Is 'the farm' entered into an environmental scheme like ELS/CSS? Woodland grant scheme, felling licence? Have you applied for planning permission where you have marked the 'whole' farm on a plan?
Yes, same holding number, 1BPS claim, not entered into any schemes with regards to that particular part of land but the actual farm is.
We found some planning permission recently from 2005 which mentioned the farm, BIL’s land and the disputed parcel of pandas being farmed. It also said that MIL intended to pass management of the holding down to OH.
Perhaps you can assemble all these parts to demonstrate/convince everyone that the 50 acres is in practice included in the address given
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