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Revocation clause in Indian Wills

October 3, 2022 2:13 pm Published by

In the recent case of Sangha v Sangha (August 2022) the High Court provided some further clarity in the intricate matter of Wills written in multiple jurisdictions.

The prolific writer of Wills bequeathed his Indian and English assets in four Wills. The third testament referred to the assets located in both India and the UK while the fourth (and last) one covering his Indian assets contained a clause in the form:

“this is my last and final WILL and all such previous documents stand cancelled”.

The Court held that the clause revokes any past Wills. As it only disposes of the Indian assets, it shall not be admitted to probate in the UK, whilst remaining a valid testamentary instrument. The UK assets would follow the intestacy rules.

In appeal, the Chancery Division reversed the decision and held that the last Will could not cancel dispositions for another part of estate than for what it referred to. The Will only revoked previous Indian Wills, not the English Will. The clause did not refer to property “wherever situated” and there was no other evidence or conduct to assert such intention. Besides, the Indian Will was drafted with the assistance of an Indian lawyer who is assumed to have left the English assets outside with good reason: in the lack of expertise for the other jurisdiction.

The practical implication of this case is that when the revocation clause appears in a foreign Will, it does not revoke the English Will and so Sangha v Sangha highlights the importance of clarity when drafting revocation clauses in international Wills.

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This post was written by Veronica Boboc