The Sibling Fight, talks about the ongoing fight between 91-year-old Margaret Davies and her son, Sidney. The issue is that Mrs. Davies' husband had promised Sidney that on his death, Sidney would get 1.3 acres of land and the barn on it. Mr. Davies died but his wife would not honour the agreement her husband had made with Sidney. The estate (including the farmhouse, barn, and land) is worth about 2 million UK pounds.
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The court has sided with Sidney. The issues have heated up. Mrs. Davies has refused to follow court orders and is now in danger of losing the entire estate because she would not part with the portion that was promised to Sidney. So far she has been ordered to pay thousands in her son's legal fees.
This raises an interesting question for many readers. Lots of us hear verbal promises from parents or grandparents that one day they'll pass something on to us. Yet, when their will fails to give us that gift, we are almost never able to claim what was promised. So what was the reason that the court is supporting Sidney's claim?
According to the facts of the story, after Sidney was promised that he'd one day own the barn and land, he moved into a trailer on the property. He spent thousands of dollars fixing up and maintaining the barn. In other words, he took the promise on faith and took action that was more to the advantage of his parents than to himself. He would not have spent the money on the barn had he not thought he would one day own it, and it would be unfair for them to accept the money and then take back the promise.
This concept is called constructive trust.There are conditions that have to be met in law in order for a situation to amount to constructive trust. The promise made must be something believable, and the person who believes it must take actions that are adverse to his own interest because he believes it. Not every promise made by every person is reasonably believable. And most importantly, in the vast majority of cases, the person who feels a promise has been made to him or her takes absolutely no steps to act on the promise.
It's always disappointing when a family ends up in litigation, but it's not clear from the story why Mrs. Davies is refusing to honour her husband's promise to her son.