No matter how many times, we as solicitors talk about the importance of wills, too many fail to make one, but hopefully, a recent sad tale of a family fallout will provoke action.
It is the story of a women in Somerset who devoted over 30 years of her life to working on the family farm for a small wage but with the promise of inheriting the farm from her father.
Lucy Habberfield worked 70 hours a week, but ultimately she had to take on her mother in the courts before winning a £1.1million payout.
Lucy successfully argued at the High Court that her father, who died, at the age of 84 in 2014, had promised her a stake in the farm for her lifetime’s work
Back in the 1980s, after leaving school Lucy, who is now 50 years old began working on the 220-acre farm earning as little as £40 a week and helped build up its dairy herd.
Such was her diligence that she worked tirelessly and apparently had just five weeks holiday in more than 30 years.
However, in 1999 she married and moved to a house nearby, her husband also began helping out on the farm.
Unfortunately though, in 2013 Lucy and her sister fell out and the couple resigned with family politics, things then decidedly took a turn for the worse.
After the fallout, her mother, Jane Habberfield was adamant that she and her husband Frank had never promised her daughter that the farm would one day be hers.
Unsurprisingly, it went through the courts and the judge ruled in her daughter’s favour, awarding her a £1,170,000 stake in the farm.
The court ruling was that she was entitled to a sum equal to the value of farmland and farm buildings, which were valued at £1,170,000 in early 2017.
Most families have some form of politics, but this is an all too common tale, which could all have been avoided with a visit to a solicitor who would have worked out a will and inheritance tax planning solution that clearly detailed the way the parents wanted to divide their assets.
We always point out that a will is one of life’s vital documents, yet so many people fail to take action to put one in place.
We are not saying there might not have been issues and sibling fallouts, but the severity could so easily have been avoided if Frank and Jane Habberfield had taken action many years ago and made wills.
It is a lesson that making a will has to be on everyone’s to-do list. We hope those in Staines uncomfortable after reading this will take action and come and see us.
If you wish to know more about wills, inheritance tax or any legal issues, please contacts us on 01784 464491. We are happy to help.