High Court Success Demonstrates Importance Of Legal Requirements
A daughter’s success in contesting her father’s Will has demonstrated why people need to ensure they meet every formal legal requirement when executing their Will, an expert at Irwin Mitchell has advised.
Balvinder Kaur Ahluwalia went to the High Court over her Will dispute in regards the last wishes of her father Ranjit Singh, which stipulated that the majority of his £870,000 estate should be left to his three sons with only nominal amounts going to his daughters.
However, in a four-day hearing in which the defence argued that the eldest sons had taken a primary role in line with Sikh tradition, a judge ruled there was evidence that legal formalities related to the execution of the Will had not been observed and the document was therefore invalid.
One witness claimed that both he and the other witness were not present at the same time when the Will was signed by Mr Singh, meaning it was not executed correctly, in line with the requirements of the 1837 Wills Act.
Chris Walton, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in contesting Wills, said the case demonstrated the importance of sound legal advice covering both the preparation and execution of a Will.
Chris outlined: “Having two witnesses present at the same time during the signing of a Will may not sound particularly important, but it is a fundamental requirement of ensuring that the document and its contents are legally binding.
“It is vital that those considering preparing their Wills seek clear and specialist legal advice.
“Following all of the legal requirements in relation to the execution will put the document on a solid legal grounding and hopefully reduce the stress faced by loved ones by avoiding time-consuming and costly disputes about the formal validity of the document. If you have any concerns about the way in which your Will was executed, it is important that you seek specialist legal advice.”
However, while Chris has called on people to ensure their Wills are watertight legally, he added that it may already be too late for some.
He explained: “We would urge anyone who has concerns over a Will and its validity to always seek legal advice to clarify whether they have a claim in relation to it.
“Will disputes are not uncommon and we’ve seen a number of cases in which issues could be linked back to whether the law had been followed correctly. However, advice by specialists is fundamental if any dispute is going to be resolved.”
If you are involved in a will dispute or need further information about contesting a will, please visit our Will, Trust & Estate Disputes section