Legal Tip 281: Broken Promises and Wills

Discussion in 'Wills & Estate Planning' started by Terry_w, 23rd Apr, 2020.

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  1. Terry_w

    Terry_w Lawyer, Tax Adviser and Mortgage broker in Sydney Business Plus Member

    9th Jun, 2006
    Australia wide
    There is a legal concept known as ‘estoppel’. It is very complex and comes in many forms, but it basically involves claims made for broken promises. It can be argued in my situations, but one situation where it does pop up a fair bit are deceased estates.

    If a person relies on a promise and suffers a detriment as a result of this reliance, they can claim relief in the courts. This often happens in farming situations.


    Farmer Jim and Jill have 4 kids and operate and live on a farm. 3 of the kids go off to work in big city. One kid, Bart, stays on the farm. His parents discuss how they appreciate him working on the farm and worry what happens when they die and the farm will be split between the 4 kids which will mean the livelihood of Bart is at risk. The plan was to leave the farm to Bart and the rest to the other kids.

    Later Jim has an argument with Bart and cuts him out of the will. Jim and Jill die from corona virus shortly after chancing their will.

    Bart can make a claim for the farm based on ‘estoppel’. Bart can argue how he worked for 40 years for under market value wages, improved the farm, etc on the understanding that it would be left to him. Now because of a recent argument 40 years of work is down the drain.

    Bart’s siblings no doubt will have their own arguments which must also be considered also.

    Similar cases can arise with non-farm businesses and even with parents being cared for by some children and not another etc.
    Perp likes this.