What is the recent guidance on disputing a will?
KIRSTY BLACK >
Consultant SolicitorMon 6 March 2023
How the court may deal with instances where someone dies without making reasonable provision for their surviving dependents has been outlined in the recent case of Kaur v Estate of Karnail Singh and Ors  EWHC 304.
Karnail Singh died in 2021, leaving behind with him an estate worth in excess of £1 million. He left a will, dated 25th June 2005, leaving the entirety of his estate to his 2 sons. His wife of 66 years, Harbans Kaur, and their four daughters were left with nothing.
Following Mr Singh’s death, his wife was forced to leave the family home and, having been left with no financial resources of her own, was compelled to claim state benefits. She later made an application to court, making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Mr Justice Peel, hearing the case, noted that Mr Singh wished to leave his estate ‘solely down the male line’. In his judgment, he added, “it seems to me that this is the clearest possible case entitling me to conclude that reasonable provision has not been made for the claimant. It is hard to see how any other conclusion can be reached. After a marriage of 66 years to which she has made a full and equal contribution, and during which all the assets were accrued, she is left with next to nothing”.
Mrs Kaur was subsequently awarded 50 % of the estate.
In order to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, a claimant must show that they have not been provided with ‘Reasonable Provision’.
The claimant must fall into one of the categories: -
- The spouse or a civil partner of the deceased.
- The former spouse or civil partner of the deceased.
- A person, who for 2 years before the death, was living with the deceased as if they were a spouse or civil partner.
- A child of the deceased.
- A person who was treated as a child of the family by the deceased.
- Any other person being maintained, wholly or partly, by the deceased immediately before the death.
When exercising its powers under the act, the court must have regard to factors set out in Section 3 of the Act.
- The financial resources and financial needs which the applicant has or is likely to have in the near future.
- The financial resources and financial needs which the applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- The financial resources and financial needs which any beneficiary has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future.
- Any obligations and responsibilities which the deceased had toward any applicant or towards any applicant or towards any applicant or towards any beneficiary of the estate of the deceased.
- The size and nature of the net estate of the deceased.
- Any physical or mental disability of any applicant or any beneficiary of the estate of the deceased.
- Any other matter, including the conduct of the applicant or any other person, which the circumstances of the case the court may consider relevant.
There are strict limits in place, so if you think you may have a claim, it’s best to act sooner rather than leave it too late. Our specialist Solicitors are happy to assist in any potential claim that you may have.
Please contact Kirsty Black, Solicitor by clicking on the ‘contact us’ button to email her directly or telephone Kirsty on 020 7400 6097.