Does a letter of intent amount to an interest in possession?

I have a case where the deceased left a property equally between his three sons absolutely, when he died in the early 90s. A year or two after he died his three sons signed a letter addressed to their step-mother (the deceased’s widow) stating that ‘they were happy for her to remain in the property for as long as she wished’. The letter also says that if she wanted to move, they would sell the house and buy another property for her to live in. They use the word ‘undertake’ when promising not to mortgage the property. The letter also says that they will pay for sheltered accommodation if she can no longer manage on her own. The letter ends with the statement ‘we are happy to provide a home for you for as long as you want’. The letter is signed by the three sons but not the step-mother.

Does this letter amount to an interest in possession and will the value of the property be aggregated with her estate on her death?

Laura Green
Boyes Turner LLP

I think it may depend on the enforcibility of the letter, in particular if
there was an intent to create a legal relationship and whether
consideration was given. So the circumstances need to be considered - eg
was this purely a kind gesture or given in exchange for the widow ceasing
some claim against the estate?

Kevin Mullen