A story from the regional newspaper, Midlands Express and Star, highlight the danger of relying on promises.
“Two daughters who said their father promised them his house when he died – only to leave it to his new wife in his final will – have failed in a High Court bid for inheritance.
Averil Macdonald, aged 51, and her sister Deborah Bannigan, 48, said they gave their father Joseph Frost £100 a month for 20 years in the belief he would leave them his house in Harborough Drive, Aldridge. But instead, the widower, a popular man known locally as the Mayor of Aldridge for his community involvement, wrote a will soon after he married his second wife Marion in 2002. He left his £231,000 estate to her and his daughters got nothing.
At the High Court, lawyers for the sisters said they were entitled to the house under the legal principle of “proprietary estoppel” – claiming he had made a firm promise to them that the property would be theirs. Ms Macdonald, who lives in Winchester and is a professor at Reading University, and Ms Bannigan, of Rugby, both agreed that, if they won the case, Marion would have to be provided for, but said they should get whatever was left of Harborough Drive when their step-mother died.
But Judge Geraldine Andrews rejected the sisters’ case yesterday, and said monthly payments they had made to their father – and their mother when she was still alive – were made “solely in return for an advance on their inheritance”. The judge added that she was “disappointed” that both sides had not been able to reach a compromise in the case.”