Contested Probate

Widow wins High Court challenge after husband leaves her out of his Will.

I explored a recent case (Kaur v Estate of Karnail Singh & Ors [2023] EWHC 304) where the widow and her four daughters were awarded a share of their late husband and father’s estate after being left out of his Will. The UK High Court ruled in favour of the wife after she challenged the succession of her late husband’s estate worth more than £1m, on the basis that she was being maintained by him at the date of his death. 

The husband died in 2021, leaving his estate solely to his two sons as he wished to pass it down the “male line”. The reason for this was due to cultural tradition. The widow and her four daughters were left with nothing. Therefore, the female members of the family rejected the deceased’s wishes and the widow brought a claim. 

The widow (83 years old) estimated her late husband’s estate to have had a gross value of £1.9m, but the sons claim it was worth £1.2m. 

Justice Peel ruled in the widow’s favour awarding her 50% of the net value of the estate (half £1m) by way of a “reasonable provision”, taking into consideration that the widow’s annual income consisted of state benefits of around £12,000. Justice Peel ruled that the widow had an “active role” both in the marriage of 66 years and in the family clothing business, meaning that she should have been entitled to a “full and equal contribution”. 

This was a strong reminder to Will-makers, that while they do have complete testamentary freedom, the Court will ensure fairness prevails. 

The claims brought by the widow were made under the Inheritance Act 1975. These claims are becoming increasingly common and the claims are not limited to spouses. 

The following people can also bring a claim:

  • Cohabitees, ex-spouses and ex-civil partners
  • Children of the deceased
  • Anybody who has been wholly or partially maintained/supported by the deceased financially 

If you wish to bring a claim, this should be done within six months of the Grant of Probate being issued.

If you would like to contest a Will and would like more information, please pick up the phone and call us on 0333 344 6802 or use the webform and we would be happy to assist. 

Can we help you? Please call us on 0333 344 6302 or contact us through our enquiry form. All initial enquiries are free and without obligation.

"*" indicates required fields