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Judge rules in favour of widow in contested Will case

A vulnerable widow, who was left out of her husband’s Will has been given financial provisions by the High Court, with a share of his estate worth more than £1 million.

Karnail Singh left everything to his two sons and nothing to his widow, Mrs Harbans Kaur, or his four daughters, intending to leave his estate solely to the male line.

The judge ruled that reasonable provision had not been made for Mrs Kaur and that she should receive 50 per cent of the net value of the estate, estimated to be worth between £1.2 million and £1.9 million gross.

The couple had been married for 66 years and had seven children. Mrs Kaur had played a full role in the marriage and worked in the family clothing business.

However, no provision was left for her in the Will and her income consisted of state benefits of around £12,000.

The matter, which was dealt with summarily by Mr Justice Peel, is believed to have set a new precedent that will open the door to similar claims from others who have been similarly disinherited.

Lorraine Walker, a Solicitor with Mander Hadley who specialises in Will disputes, said: “Contested Wills, also known as disputed wills or contentious probate, occur when there is disagreement over the validity of a deceased’s Will or the distribution of their assets. These disputes can be emotionally charged and can lead to lengthy legal battles.

“If a Will is contested, the case will be heard in the Chancery Division of a High Court. This court specialises in handling legal disputes including those relating to the validity of a will.

“The court will consider the validity of the Will and if it is found to be invalid, the estate will be distributed according to the previous valid Will or the rule of intestacy if there wasn’t a previous Will.”

Grounds under which a Will can be challenged include;

  • Lack of capacity: If the deceased at the time of making the Will did not have the mental ability to fully understand what they were doing, the Will can be challenged on the basis that they lacked ‘testamentary capacity’.
  • Undue influence: If the deceased was forced, coerced or pressured into making the Will that they wouldn’t ordinarily have made but for the pressure, it may be considered invalid.
  • Fraud or forgery: If the will was created through deception, misrepresentation or dishonesty, it will be deemed invalid.
  • Lack of proper execution: A will must be signed and witnessed in accordance with specific legal requirements. If these requirements were not met, it will be deemed invalid.

Lorraine has recently recorded a YouTube video entitled ‘Contested Wills -What You Need to Know’ which is available to watch for free here.

For more information about challenging a Will or if you would like to put in place measures to reduce the risk of your Will being challenged in the future, please get in touch with our expert team.

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