For over twenty years, the heirs of an Indian nobleman have been battling over the legitimacy of a will governing an estate worth more than $3 billion. A recent court decision, however, may have finally put an end to the dispute.
The estate of Sir Harinder Singh Brar, the last Maharajah of Faridkot, included vintage Rolls Royces, a large amount of real estate in Delhi, forts built hundreds of years ago and even a small airport. The Maharajah died in 1989 and the terms of his will immediately aroused suspicion: he left nothing to his wife or mother, disinherited his eldest daughter, gave his youngest daughter nothing but a small monthly stipend and left everything he had to a trust administered by his attorneys and servants.
The two remaining daughters of the Maharajah initially challenged the will when it became public in 1989. They alleged that the will had been forged by the servants and officials in 1981, shortly after the death of the ex-ruler's only son. According to court filings, the daughters argued that their father's lawyers had forced him to sign the will while he was in mourning and not in his right mind. Finally, after decades of legal wrangling, an Indian court agreed with the sisters, finding that the will had, in fact, been forged and that it was illegal and void.
Though the decision marks a victory for the last remaining members of the Maharajah's family, the value of the estate has been diminished over the past few years by the waste and neglect of those administering the illegal trust.