Widow wins 50% share of late husbands estate

Widow wins 50% share of late husbands estate

A widow married to her husband for 66 years was left out of his Will. Subsequently she won her court case requesting a share of his estate. The widow wins 50% share of the estate, valued in excess of £1 million.

Karnail Singh died in 2021. His Will left his entire estate to his two sons because of a wish to leave everything to the male line. Consequently, his 83-year-old widow, Harbans Kaur, and his four daughters received nothing.

Mrs Kaur’s claim

His widow claimed for reasonable financial provision. She was entitled to do so under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) act 1975. Her income was around £12,000 per year in state benefits and nothing else.

The family ran a clothing business. Importantly, Mrs Kaur played a full role in both the marriage and the business. She estimated the value of the business to be £1.9 million. However, one of the sons said that it was worth £1.2 million.

The court’s decision

The judge, Mr Justice Peel, found it clear that reasonable financial provision had not been made for Mrs Kaur. Therefore resulting in a ruling that she receive 50% share of the net value of the estate.

He said: ‘By (a) will, dated 25 June 2005, the estate was left in equal shares to two of the children… the sons of the claimant and the deceased,’ he wrote. 

‘The reason why the will was crafted in these terms, excluding the claimant and the other four siblings, was because the deceased wished to leave his estate solely down the male line.

‘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 made a full and equal contribution, and during which all the assets accrued, she is left with next to nothing.’ 

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 exists to protect certain individuals who may not have been provided for in a Will. These include, those who relied on the deceased to maintain them, were closely related to them or in a close relationship with them.

Those entitled to make a claim are:

  • The deceased’s spouse or civil partner
  • A former spouse or civil partner. On condition that they have not remarried or entered into another civil partnership
  • Someone living with the deceased for two years or more before their death
  • A child of the deceased
  • Someone treated as their child by the deceased
  • Someone being maintained by the deceased at the time of their death

Spouses or civil partners are entitled to claim a sum seen as reasonable in the circumstances. When deciding how much is reasonable, the judge considers what they might have received had they divorced the deceased.

Other individuals are only entitled to claim a reasonable financial provision to maintain them.

In deciding how much to award, the court looks at:

  • The applicant’s own financial resources
  • The applicant’s financial needs, both now and in the future
  • The financial resources and needs of any other beneficiary of the estate
  • The size of the estate
  • Any disability on the part of either the applicant or a beneficiary
  • Any other relevant circumstances
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