Recently the High Court in London has been the setting for a significant claim by the mistress of a deceased businessman, Ms Melissa Proles, against his widow, Mrs Harjeet Kaur Kohli, for reasonable financial provision from Mr Baldev Kohli’s Estate following his death. Ms Proles seeks a share of Mr Kohli’s £2.5million Estate for her young daughter with Mr Kohli.
Ms Proles claims that she began a relationship with Mr Kohli and he proposed to her soon afterwards. The couple shared a home in Surrey until shortly before their daughter was born in 2013, it is alleged. Ms Proles now seeks “reasonable provision” from Mr Kohli’s Estate, pursuant to the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. Mrs Kohli opposed the claim, suggesting that her husband’s “double life” did not mean that he intended to make his home in Britain and abandon his family in India.
The Inheritance (Provision) Act 1975 provides that if a person has been maintained during their life by someone who has died, and it is discovered that the Deceased’s Will or the Rules of Intestacy, which govern the distribution of Estates where there is no Will, do not make reasonable provision for that person, they can ask the Court to step in. In this case Miss Proles asked the Court to provide for her daughter with Mr Kohli, whom it is alleged Mr Kohli “doted” on and called his “Princess”. The High Court heard that Mr Kohli showered the young girl with gifts, paid for her nursery place and intended that she would have a tennis coach. The child was a year old when Mr Kohli was diagnosed with cancer. He died in Delhi more than a year later, aged 59. After his death Mr Kolhi left the money he made in pharmaceuticals to his widow, Mrs Kohli.
At the time of writing the Court has not returned a Judgment in Ms Proles’ case. It is difficult for commentators to determine which way the Court will decide, as every case under the Inheritance (Provision) Act 1975 is unique. It is hoped this case may bring further clarity to an often difficult area of law.