Son fights stepmother for father's £5 million estate

Proprietary estoppel: Son fights stepmother for father’s £5 million estate

Son argues he owns a right over farm after being told it would “one day all be his”

The son of a millionaire farmer is fighting his stepmother for the estate left which he claims was promised to him by his father.

Adam Scott, 59, has taken his stepmother, Jennifer Scott, to court over his father Richard’s inheritance worth £5 million which includes the farm he says he used to work on for up to 130 hours a week on and was told would one day be his.

Adam ended up receiving nothing from his father’s will after he died in 2018 despite him claiming that he worked on the Chelford farm for little-to-no pay. Adam’s siblings Gordon, William, and Rebecca also received nothing from the will.

Adam argued that his father was not of sound mind when writing his last two wills in 2016 which removed him as a beneficiary. The wills were created within months of the couple’s marriage in 2016. Adam has requested the wills be nullified as his father “lacked the requisite testamentary capacity and/or did not know and approve of their contents”.

Adam’s barrister, Paul Burton told a pre-trial hearing:

“A number of issues needed to be resolved before a concluded settlement agreement could be entered into.

Ultimately, it has not been possible to resolve those issues.”

Burton explained how Adam had worked on the farm for a considerable period of time, even buying his own land in the area. He added:

“Over the decades, he and Adam worked on the farm as father and son, and Richard gave repeated and specific assurances to his son in relation to the interests he would acquire on his death.”

However, he also told the court how Richard was diagnosed with a cerebral disease in 2011 which resulted in his wife’s family “gaining ascendancy in relation to the farm, its business and over Richard himself”. As Richard’s illness worsened, Burton stated that Richard created a “rash of wills” which should be voided.

Adam has also argued that under the principle of proprietary estoppel he holds a right over the farm after being given an assurance from his father that he would inherit the farm.

However, Jennifer Scott’s lawyers stated that there was worsening relations between the father and son due Adam trying to get his father committed and that there the two had a poor relationship which was never resolved.

The case will be heard in London’s High Court, but not until 2024.

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