Court revokes widow’s administration of estate after will is discovered

The High Court in Nakuru has revoked the grant of letters of administration issued to Bhavna Karia, the widow of the late Nakuru-based lawyer Sandeep Manilal Karia.

This was after the court was told the deceased left behind a Will.

Justice Hedwig Ong’udi revoked the earlier ruling, noting that Bhavna had concealed material facts and misled the court when she petitioned for the letters of administration in December 2021.

Justice Ong’udi stated that Bhavna chose to proceed with her application despite knowing about the will, which is currently the subject of a grant of probate application before the Supreme Court in Australia.

“There is no doubt that the administrator knew that the deceased had left a Will but decided not to bring the same to the attention of the court whether the same is valid or not. It was for the court to rule on its validity,” ruled Justice Ong’udi.

The will was brought to the court’s attention by Sandeep’s brothers, Nalin Manilal Karia and Sunil Manilal Karia, who objected to the grant to their sister-in-law.

Sandeep died on May 9, 2021, while receiving treatment in Gujarat State, India.

He left behind a widow but no children. Sandeep was an advocate of the High Court of Kenya and the founder of SM Karia and Company Advocates.

The disputed wealth is estimated at over Sh120 million and has become contentious between the brothers and the widow.

Bhavna petitioned for letters of administration, claiming to be the first in priority to do so in cases of intestacy and sought to inherit her husband’s entire estate as the sole beneficiary.

Bhavna’s petition included cash in various bank accounts, three parcels of land in Nakuru and three high-end vehicles.

Bhavna stated that she had consulted her husband’s lawyer, Henry Aminga, who informed her of the will but could not establish its location.

After filing her petition, she received a letter from her brothers-in-law in Australia informing her of the will in their possession.

She received an authenticated copy of the will dated February 4, 2003, on November 10, 2021.

Despite this, the brothers filed a protest on June 14, 2022, accusing Bhavna of misleading the court to obtain the grant through fraud.

They claimed they had informed her about the will, but she proceeded with the case. They presented correspondence with Bhavna’s lawyers and a copy of the original will to support their claim.

The will named Sandeep’s brothers, Nalin and Sunil, as executors and his father, Manilal Visram, as an alternative executor.

Sandeep left gifts of Sh17 million (100,000 pounds) for his wife and Sh50 million (300,000 pounds) for his sister Darsha Sunil.

His brothers were bequeathed Sh108 million (650,000 pounds) held at Barclays Bank, now Absa.

The deceased left all his funds and monies in India to his wife and three parcels of land in Nakuru to be shared equally among his five nephews and nieces.

The brothers argued that the will is pending a grant of probate in the Supreme Court in Australia, filed in May 2022, and sought to have the grant issued to Bhavna revoked.

The court faulted Bhavna for not disclosing this information.

“In my opinion, the acts by the administrator and her own admission as stated above amounted to concealing of material facts which ought to have assisted the court in arriving at a just decision. This was an outright breach of Section 76 (b) of the Law of Succession Act and the same warrants a revocation of the Grant of Letters of Administration issued to her on December 20, 2021,” ruled Justice Ong’udi.

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