Indian royalty’s 24-year will dispute slowly moving forward

This is not a story about a Stockton resident creating a will, nor about someone in El Paso making a sound estate plan; this is a story about royalty, riches and an estate worth nearly $3.1 billion. While the last will and testament of an Indian maharajah may not seem directly relevant to someone in Texas considering whether to draft a will, the two situations are not nearly as different as one might think.

The whole purpose of a will, whether it is for a Texan of modest means or a member of India’s noble class, is to deal with an individual’s estate and property. When a family member cuts someone out of the will, especially someone who normally would inherit, it can lead to a court battle, potentially lasting years.

For the two daughters of this former maharajah, their father’s will, which left one daughter nothing and the other a monthly stipened that is little more than $20, was disappointing to say the least. So, for the past 24 years, they have been fighting the will and the nobleman’s lawyers, arguing the will was fake. Recently, an Indian court agreed with the daughters, determining the will was forged and giving the daughters almost $3.1 billion.

The lawyers who originally were made responsible for the money, held in trust, have vowed to fight the ruling.

So, how does this apply to someone in Texas with a much smaller estate? Just like the maharajah, if someone drafts a will that leaves someone out, the individuals who do inherit may find themselves in court fighting for their inheritance. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney, however, can help protect against fighting, at least in the courtroom.

Source:The Guardian, “Maharajah’s daughters inherit £2bn after court battle over ‘forged’ will,” Jason Burke, July 29, 2013