For thirty years, Matthew’s close friend Tony promised him that he’d inherit the farmland he’d worked on all his life. But when Tony died without a Will in place, Matthew’s inheritance was in jeopardy. Our Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team turned Matthew’s hopes for his future at the farm into happiness by helping him secure his inheritance.
Matthew’s worked on Gilmoor Farm in Harrogate since he was eight years old. Because of the work his family had put into the farm, the owner Tony promised that after he died, the farmland and buildings would belong to Matthew. He told Matthew that everything was in place so that when the time came, the land would rightfully belong to him.
So when Tony passed away in 2017, Matthew was shocked to find that no Will was in place. Through intestacy law, Tony’s estranged daughter stood to inherit both the farmhouse and Matthew’s land. This led him to contact Paula Myers as he was keen to use her expert support to secure his land.
Matthew spent a happy childhood working on Gilmoor Farm. He enjoyed caring for the animals and looking after the upkeep of the property. Like his parents who’d worked there before him, he enjoyed a great relationship with Tony, the farm’s owner. Matthew had known Tony his whole life and considered him a father figure. He describes the farm as “a very safe place. It was a place that I called home, even though I didn’t actually live there.”
For years, Tony had promised Matthew that he stood to inherit the farmland in the event of his death. Matthew’s family had contributed decades of work to Gilmoor Farm and Tony wanted them to continue enjoying it in future.
Tony assured Matthew that his legal affairs were in order. Numerous friends and family members had also heard his promises that the land would be Matthew’s one day.
Tony’s death was like losing another parent for Matthew. He took solace in the fact that he’d still have the farm as his home – until he learned that Tony had no Will in place. Tony’s estranged daughter disputed Matthew’s right to the land, and as a blood relative, believed she had a claim to it.
While Matthew was disappointed that there was no Will to protect him, as he was led to believe by Tony, he was keen to contact Paula Myers to learn what steps he could take. Tony at a later date, agreed to pass the farmhouse to his daughter, but Matthew understood that he’d still intended for the land and farm buildings to belong to him.
Anxious about losing his inheritance, Matthew was “overthinking and double-thinking everything”. Communication was important to him during this case and Paula kept him informed every step of the way. She was confident that Matthew did have a claim on the land and farm buildings and assured him that she’d help him get through this challenging time.
After speaking to Paula, Matthew said: “I felt a hundred times better… Your mind can soon run rampant and Paula just kept me grounded all the way.”
Winning the Claim
We supported Matthew through a three-year legal battle to secure his land. Thanks to the strength of the witness testimonies, from people who’d seen Matthew’s work on the farm and heard Tony’s promises, we succeeded in 2020. The land he’d grown up on now legally belonged to him.
Receiving the news was: “like somebody had lifted a huge weight off my shoulders to be honest, it was amazing,” said Matthew. “I remember Paula rang me and I couldn’t believe it, I had to pull over and stop for five minutes!”
Matthew’s delighted that his life is back to normal and he can continue enjoying the farm he grew up on. His children and grandchildren frequently come up to visit, play on Matthew’s quad bikes and enjoy the peaceful countryside.
“We’re just so happy. It’s such a nice place to be, there’s nobody about so you can be yourself and do what you want in your own time.”
“Knowing that my future’s secure for my family, and my children, and my grandchildren – I’m really happy about that.”
If you’ve lost out on a promised inheritance that wasn’t included in someone’s Will, we may be able to help you make a proprietary estoppel claim. Call today on 0370 1500 100 to learn more.
Meet Paula Myers