High Court rules that half of £1m estate left “solely down the male line” rightfully belongs to the widow after a 66 year marriage

Karnail Singh, who died in 2021, wrote his will in 2005 in which he “wished to leave his estate solely down the male line”. He therefore left his estate, valued between £1.2m and £1.9m, to their two sons and excluded his wife of 66 years and their four daughters entirely.

Mr Justice Peel heard the case and ruled that Mrs Harbans Kaur, who married the deceased as a teenager and is now 83, had played a “full role” in the marriage and had worked in the family business without receiving a salary or any direct stake in it. Mr Justice Peel considered that she had been “left with next to nothing” and that “this is the clearest possible case entitling me to conclude that reasonable provision has not been made [for Mrs Harbans Kaur]”.

Mrs Harbans Kaur was awarded 50% of the net value of the estate. Her lawyer, Jessika Bhatti, said that the ruling could open the door for others in a similar position, and that the case was “an injustice made right”.

The substantial importance of ‘reasonable provision’ being made for dependants in a Will is not one that the Court overlooks, particularly where spouses are arbitrarily excluded.

Making a claim through the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is not easy or straightforward. If you believe you may have a claim, please get in touch and we would be happy to advise.