For Richer, For Poorer?


A widow has recently succeeded in her contentious probate claim for financial provision from her late husband's estate. She brought her claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 as, despite 66 years of marriage, her husband failed to include her in his Will.

 Karnail Singh died in 2021, leaving a Will made in June 2005. His Will completely excluded his wife of 66 years, Harbans Kaur, and their four daughters. Instead, he said he 'wished to leave his estate solely down the male line'. His estate, estimated to be worth £1.9m, including shares in various companies, was left equal to his two sons.

The Judge, Mr Justice Peel, ruled that the Deceased's wife should receive 50% of the estate's net value stating that she had played 'a full role' in their marriage and worked alongside her husband in the family clothing business. 

The decision is consistent with existing case law and the application of the divorce hypothesis in claims made by spouses. 

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For richer for poorer

The Inheritance Act 1975

The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 allows a limited category of individuals to bring a claim against an estate of a deceased person where "reasonable financial provision" has not been made for them under the terms of the deceased's Will or under intestacy.

Those that may be eligible to make an Inheritance Act claim include:

  • A spouse or civil partner of the Deceased.
  • A former spouse or civil partner.
  • A person living with the Deceased as a husband, wife or civil partner for two years immediately before death.
  • A child of the Deceased, or a person treated as a child of the Deceased.
  • Any person who was being maintained by the Deceased immediately before death.

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The Inheritance Act 1975

Eligibility to make a claim

If you are an eligible applicant, the court will consider whether the deceased's estate makes "reasonable financial provision" for you. 

In all cases, save that of a spouse or civil partner, the amount of any reasonable financial provision is limited to maintenance. In spouse and civil partner claims, the award will focus on what is reasonable for the spouse to receive – it is not restricted to maintenance.

In coming to a decision, the Judge will consider the following factors:

  • The financial resources and needs the applicant has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including savings and debts.
  • The financial resources and needs of the beneficiaries and any other applicants.
  • The size and nature of the Deceased's estate.
  • Whether the applicant, beneficiaries or any other applicants have mental or physical disabilities.
  • The Deceased's obligations and responsibilities towards any applicant or any beneficiary of the estate.
  • Any other relevant circumstances, including the conduct of the Deceased or the applicant.

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Eligibility to make a claim

Terms of the claim

A claim under the Act needs to be issued with the court within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate if the Deceased had a Will or Letters of Administration if they died without a Will.

There are exceptions to the time limit; however, permission from the court will be required. Many claims of this nature are resolved by alternative dispute resolution.

Suppose you are eligible to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. In that case, we can offer a no-win-no-fee, a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) to assist in funding a claim.

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Terms of the claim

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If you wish to discuss any aspect related to a contentious probate claim of this nature, please contact:

0161 941 4000