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Sikh father’s will favouring sons is declared invalid

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The daughter of a Sikh father, who left the majority of his estate to his sons, and only a fraction to his daughters, has successfully overturned the document in court.

Ranjit Singh, of Crawley, Sussex, made the will in 1999. In it, he left almost the entirety of his estate to his sons Jarnail, Ajaib, and Jugdeep Balvinder. Two of his three daughters were left £20,000 each whilst a third received nothing.

Mr. Singh was born in a poor Punjabi village but later moved to the United Kingdom and built a career with British Bakeries, leaving at the time of his death an estate worth in the region of £870,000. In line with Sikh tradition, his will favoured the sons of the family with the expectation that his daughters would be considered part of their husbands’ families and receive substantial wedding dowries.

However, on Mr. Singh’s death in March 2009 one of those daughters, Balvinder Kaur Ahluwalia, challenged the will on the grounds that both witnesses to the signing of the document were not present at the same time. One of those witnesses, Mr. Singh’s 78-year-old next-door neighbour Maurice Grantham, said that he was ‘adamant’ both witnesses were not in attendance when the will was signed.

As a result Judge Mark Cawson QC declared the will invalid. Since there was no later document the estate will, as per the intestacy rules, be divided equally amongst the six children.
Judge Cawson said: “I am conscious, and have kept fully in mind, that the effect of this judgment is to frustrate Mr Singh’s testamentary intentions, and the result will be there is an intestacy as there is no later will.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

September 19, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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