Skip to main content

AllyTow Banner Image

Ally Tow

Dispute resolution

In England and Wales testators retain testamentary freedom to leave their estate to whoever they choose.  However, a High Court decision made this week should serve as a useful warning and reminder to all testators that the law will step in to ensure fairness to all those entitled to those with a legitimate claim on the testator’s estate but who have been overlooked by the testator.

bigstock Real Estate Agent Explaining A 461851081

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”) certain categories of persons can apply for an order on the ground that the disposition of the deceased’s estate effected by his will or the law relating to intestacy is not such as to make reasonable financial provision for them.

“Reasonable financial provision” means, in the case of a spouse or civil partner, such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances for them to receive, whether or not that provision is required for their maintenance.  For all other applicants, it means such financial provision as it would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for them to receive for their maintenance.

The Act sets out a list of matters which the court must consider when exercising its powers including, for example, the financial resources and financial needs which the applicant, any other applicant or any beneficiary of the estate has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future together with any obligations that the deceased had towards the applicant and any beneficiary.  It is the case therefore that generally each case will turn its own individual facts.  As such, it can often be difficult to assess with certainty the likely outcome of an application.  However, in the recent case of Singh V Kaur Mr Justice Peel said “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.


The facts of the case

Mrs Singh’s husband, Karnail died in 2021.  The couple had been married for some 66 years by the time of his death.  They had seven children, although one had sadly pre-deceased Mr Singh.  By the time of the hearing Mrs Kaur was 83 years old. 

By his will dated 25 June 2005 Mr Singh left his estate, valued at in excess of £1m, in equal shares to two of their remaining the children, namely their sons.  The Judge learnt that the reason for excluding his wife and his remaining four children, all daughters, was because he wished to leave his estate solely down the male line.

Mr Singh’s estate comprised a clothing business which the family had run for many years.  The court heard evidence that Mrs Kaur had played a “full role” in the marriage and worked in the clothing business.  She was now, however, surviving on state benefits of approximately £12,000 per year.



Mr Justice Peel concluded that “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.  …. She should receive 50% of the net value of the estate.”.



Whilst testamentary freedom does exist in English and Wales, this case is a salutary reminder that certain people cannot just be cut out of wills and that if necessary the law will step in and rule in the interests of fairness.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.

Get in touch

If you have any questions relating to this article or have any legal disputes you would like to discuss, please contact the Dispute Resolution team on

[email protected]
shutterstock 531975229 (1)

Stay ahead with the latest from Boyes Turner

Sign up to receive the latest news on areas of interest to you. We can tailor the information we send to you.

Sign up to our newsletter
shutterstock 531975229 (1)