Land registry caution cancelled and bequeathed farm sold, against the will of family members

A close friend of deceased farmer, Arnold Seals, has been allowed to sell his farm despite challenges from his three children, after a High Court Judge allowed the estate’s first registration caution application to be cancelled.

The testator had committed suicide at the end of last year following years of depression after his wife’s death.

Childhood friend, Florence Williams befriended Seals and it was revealed after his death that a new will had been executed in 2010. Within this will Seals left his entire estate to Williams and removed his children, noting in a supporting letter that he had lost touch with them after the death of their mother.

After Williams rejected their request to postpone the sale, the Seals applied for a caution with the Land Registry against the first registration of the farm, as it had never been registered and had been within the family for many years.

The claim on the estate was also expanded and the Seals later raised questions about the validity of the will.

Williams applied to have the caution removed at the England and Wales High Court as a sale couldn’t proceed should the caution be applied. Along with other owners of the farm who were members of the Seals family, Williams wanted to put the farm up for auction.

The High Court judge raised the matter of the Seals not intending to use or live on the farm if inherited and stated their motives were wholly financial.

Consequences of the caution being both granted and cancelled were analysed by the judge. As some of the claims on the estate could be granted, the Seals were deemed unable to cover loss of earnings that could be caused.

Alongside these issues, the judge also took into consideration the wishes of the family co-owners of the estate.

As the Seals had not commenced their contentious probate litigation, the judge granted cancellation of the caution and advised each party to seek mediation for any further challenges regarding the will.

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