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Father dies without a will, grand-daughters lose shares in a farm

A farmers grand-daughters lost their shares due to complications arising when their father dies without a will.

The farmer died in 1992, leaving behind a wife and four children. His will left the farm to two of his sons and wife to be held as tenants in common.

The will also stated that for the share to be received by the two sons, they must pay a specified sum to their siblings within 9 months of his demise. Should they not do this, their share would pass to the other two siblings.

Unfortunately, one of the sons dies without his own will in 1990 to years before the death of the famer. As is to be expected, He did not pay the siblings the sum speculated in his fathers will. The grand-daughters of the farmer, did not know of the condition in the farmers will and failed to pay their aunt and uncle. They claimed that the condition was applicable to their father and not to them.

Furthermore, they contested that they were not aware of the clause and as such free of the consequences due to compliance being impossible.

The High Court decision stated that as ‘substituted beneficiaries’ the grand-daughters were subject to the farmer’s conditions as their father would have been and confirmed they needed to make the payment to their aunt and uncle. The Court also disagreed with their argument that know knowledge meant they could not comply.

The grandfather didn’t specify that beneficiaries must be notified in sufficient time in order for the clause to be fulfilled. Non-compliance with clause meant the gift would be passed to the other beneficiaries.

The grand-daughters failed to comply, thus their share of the farm passed to their fathers siblings.

Please contact us for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspects of wills and probate.

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