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Re Basham [1986]

Facts

  • In return for many years of unpaid work, following clear assurances from the deceased, the claimant expected to inherit the entirety of the deceased’s estate
  • Dying intestate, the deceased’s estate did not pass to the claimant

Issue

  • Could the deceased be estopped from denying the claimant’s inheritance?

Decision

  • Yes

Reasoning

  • There is no reason why proprietary estoppel cannot operate on a future right (under a will which will not operate until death)
  • Although property upon which proprietary estoppel is to operate must be identified, it is sufficient for the equity generated to apply to the remainder of a deceased’s estate
  • Where a claim for proprietary estoppel is established, a ‘floating trust’ will be established, for the benefit on the claimant. Upon the death of the deceased, that trust will attach to the deceased’s estate, with the equity available to the claimant
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