Neighbour claims Freddy's Tractor
The issues with the administration of Farmer Freddy’s Estate were continuing. Pebbles saw Joe, the other executor of Freddy’s estate, coming up the driveway.
“How is the estate administration going?” asked Pebbles, the daughter of the late Freddy. “It seems like every time I see you there’s another surprise.”
“Well, there have been more developments,” said Joe. “You will recall that I mentioned when I last saw you that Freddy’s neighbour was claiming an entitlement to Freddy’s tractor.”
“Yes, how could I forget!” said Pebbles. “You mentioned that he was claiming that Freddy gave it to him by way of some sort of gift.”
“I received another letter from the neighbour’s lawyer in the post the other day,” said Joe. “It appears that the nature of the claim is slightly different to what I was originally told. Apparently the neighbour has done quite a bit of work around the farm over the last six months. I’m told that a lot of the new fencing and riparian planting was done by the neighbour and that Freddy promised to leave the tractor to the neighbour in his Will as payment for that work.”
“I can see where this is going,” said Pebbles. “Is the neighbour saying that Freddy made a testamentary promise?”
“Yes, that’s right,” said Joe. “The letter makes reference to the Law Reform (Testamentary Promises) Act 1949. Does that make any sense to you?”
“Yes, it does,” said Pebbles. “That Act allows a person to make a claim against an estate where they have provided services to or work for a person during their lifetime and that person has made a promise to, in essence, make payment to the claimant for those services or work through their Will.
“As I understand it, the Courts will consider a number of factors in determining whether a testamentary promises claim is valid. In particular, the Courts will examine the services or work performed, what is available in the estate, whether there are any other claims, and what was promised.”
Pebbles paused to think. “Well, I do remember that the neighbour was spending a bit of time at the property doing work on Freddy’s behalf. As I recall, he did that work when Freddy was quite sick and was unable to do the work himself.”
“So it sounds as if the neighbour may have a valid claim,” said Joe.
“It’s a pretty expensive tractor though,” said Pebbles. “And it hardly seems right that Freddy would promise him that in exchange for the work that he performed.”
“It looks like we might have to make a few more enquiries then,” said Joe. “In particular, we should find out just what exactly was done and when, and also the circumstances in which Freddy apparently promised the tractor.”
“Good idea!” said Pebbles.
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