Male Heirs, Beliefs And Culture vs UK Law

Law FirmHerrington Carmichael
Subject MatterFamily and Matrimonial, Wills/ Intestacy/ Estate Planning
AuthorMs Annabelle Randell
Published date04 April 2023

The rich tapestry of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds present in the United Kingdom can on occasions lead to a clash between the application of the laws of the land and an individual's deeply held beliefs and cultural values.

One such culturally significant issue has recently played out in the courts in two recent cases: the issue of disinheriting family members because of their sex.

Kaur v Singh

In the recent case of Kaur v The estate of Kamil Singh & Ors [2023] EWHC 304 (Fam) an 83 year-old widow (Mrs Kaur) brought a successful claim against her late husband's estate, which was valued at over '1million. Mrs Kaur, at the age of 83, and having been married to the deceased for 63 years before his death discovered after his death that she has not been included as a beneficiary to his estate. Similarly, their five daughters had not been included in Mr Singh's will either. It transpired that only his two sons had been bequeathed Mr Singh's '1million+ estate, with no provision having been made whatsoever for the female members of Mr Singh's family. Mrs Kaur brought a claim against the estate for a reasonable financial provision, resulting from her 63-year marriage to the deceased.

High Court judge Mr Justice Peel was told that Mr Singh had made his will with the instructions that he "wished to leave his estate solely down the male line". This followed Mr Singh's deeply held belief that only the male members of one's immediate family should inherit family wealth, to the detriment of much-loved wives, sisters and daughters who do not continue to benefit from a father's wealth after they have died.

Within her court proceedings, Mrs Kaur claimed that her late husband had not made reasonable provision for her in his will. He had left her nothing, and she was therefore left to support herself with her '12,000 per year in state benefits, as opposed to the '1million+ estate to which she had benefitted throughout her life. As his spouse (emphasising here that she was his spouse of 63 years), Mrs Kaur argued that she was entitled to a share of his estate so that financial provisions be made for her as his wife and closest relative.

Mrs Kaur's claim was successful. The court accepted that the reasonable provisions which Mrs Kaur was entitled to from her late husband's estate had not been made. The court awarded her in excess of '500,000.00 to reflect a 50% share of her late husband's estate.

Re Chin

Similar to the above case, follows the case of Re Ho Chau Ying...

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