The daughters of a Maharaja have won their 21 year legal battle to inherit his £2.2 billion pound estate.
A court in the north western Indian city of Chandigarh ruled that Harinder Singh Brar’s will had been forged to award his fortune to a trust managed by his servants and lawyers.
The will, which was made 32 years ago, left assets including forts, a palace, vintage cars, a 200 acre aerodrome and jewellery. It completely excluded the deceased’s wife Narinder Kaur and mother Mohinder as well as his daughters Amrit and Deepinder Kaur.
The will has been declared as “fictitious” and “void” by the chief judicial magistrate Rajnish Kumar which declared the trust that inherited the deceased’s assets as illegal.
The Maharaja ruled the Punjabi state of Faridkot before British colonial rule ended in 1947. He was allowed to keep a number of properties after India’s independence which included Faridkot House in the heart of New Delhi and the historic Manimajra Fort in Faridkot.
The evidence presented to the court was that Harinder Singh Brar had become depressed when his son Harmohinder Singh died in a road accident in 1981. Amrit Kaur claimed that the trust members forced her father to sign a will a year later when he was not in a fit state of mind.
The decision, which was published on 29th July 2013 involves a highly unusual set of circumstances but Sarah Young partner at Ridley & Hall Solicitors in Huddersfield, said:
“Although allegations of wills being forged are unusual, unfortunately this kind of thing does happen.
Financial abuse of the elderly can take many forms and the forging of wills is one way that unscrupulous people can exploit those who are vulnerable to abuse. It’s important that family members and friends of vulnerable or elderly adults should look out for signs of exploitation or abuse which can include perpetrators isolating an adult at risk.”
She went on to add:
“It is possible to challenge a forged will, but it is a very difficult, expensive and time consuming business. I would urge families to talk openly about financial matters and make their intentions clear to eachother, ideally in the form of a will which should be reviewed regularly and especially after a major event like a spouse’s death or a remarriage.”
Sarah Young is a Partner with Ridley & Hall solicitors. She specialises in contentious probate and personal injury. Sarah has an LLM in Personal Injury Law and has a record of bringing the most complex cases to a successful conclusion.
For further information please contact Sarah Young on 01484 538421 or e-mail.