I’m sure by now most of you will have seen the deeply moving video clip of Alistair Brownlee sacrificing his own race at the World Triathlon Series finale to help his brother Jonny over the finishing line after he had started to suffer from heat exhaustion.

Seeing this video clip sadly reminded me that often families can be a source of conflict as well as support and unity.

Common family disputes that I see on a day to day basis include family members working in business together but then falling out over the direction of the business or the behaviour of a family member; families falling out over the death of a loved one and how their estate should be divided or family members disagreeing over what should happen with a jointly owned property.

The recent High Court case of Moore v Moore [2016] is a sad example of a dispute between father and son concerning the future running of the family farming business. The son, Stephen, told the court that his father had promised him from an early age that the farming business would one day be his. Relying on those promises Stephen dedicated his working life to assisting his father with the running of the business rather than seeking alternative better paid employment. The relationship between Stephen and his parents broke down as Stephen’s father’s mental health deteriorated. The court decided in this case that Stephen had relied on his father’s promises and a result he should be entitled to his father’s share of the farm and farm business.

Many family disputes can be avoided by taking appropriate legal advice in advance e.g. having a Partnership Agreement drawn up when starting up the family business or making a Will and keeping the Will updated with any changes in family circumstances.

Sadly not all disputes can be prevented but if you find yourself in that unfortunate situation you can be assured that we at Thursfields have the experience to guide you through the most difficult times in a sensitive and pragmatic way.

If you need any advice on a dispute involving members of your family contact myself, Tracey Ashford on 01562 512484 or tashford@thursfields.co.uk

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