Success for millionaire's daughters in will dispute claim

Three sisters have succeeded in a claim to challenge their late mother’s latest will and they now stand to receive a share of the £3 million estate.

Ho Chin and George Chin moved to the UK from Hong Kong in 1965 and settled in Essex. They built up a substantial property portfolio over the years which included a successful Chinese restaurant empire. The couple had six children; five daughters and one son.

George Chin was very traditional and was adamant that the family estate should be inherited by the couple’s son. He took the view that as the couples’ daughters were married, they were “no longer part of the family” and that accordingly they should not receive any of the family money. He was insistent that the Chin family money should go to Winston, the only male heir.

Ho Chin died in 2015 and under the terms of her will which was signed in 2011, her entire estate was indeed left to Winston. Winston had already been gifted most of the couple’s money (said to be worth around £3 million) after his marriage in the late 1980’s. This left Ho Chin with just one remaining asset, a commercial property in Southend, Essex.

Ho Chin’s prior will was made in 2009. This will made provision for the Southend commercial property, worth around £185,000, to be split between her children equally.

Three of the sisters brought legal action contesting the 2011 will. The sisters contended that their mother only signed that will due to undue influence exerted on her on the part of their brother and father.

Counsel representing the sisters in the claim to challenge the will contended that George Chin was “abusive and manipulative” and referred to Mrs Chin’s desire to leave an inheritance to her daughters causing significant friction between the couple. Mrs Chin’s health deteriorated after 2009 and she became physically dependant upon her son and husband. After suffering a stroke in 2009, Mrs Chin had become completely dependent on her son and husband and was extremely vulnerable.

According to the barrister acting for the sisters, this left Mrs Chin 'defenceless' against their influence and she 'eventually capitulated', changing her will in 2011 to completely disinherit her daughters” It was argued that she succumbed to these pressures and changed her will for an easy life.

One of the other sisters, Rose, gave evidence in support of the claim to contest the will and spoke of Mrs Chin’s insistence that her daughters receive a share of the estate. As well as contesting the 2011 will, the claim also asked the court to overturn a transfer whereby Mrs Chin sought to transfer the commercial property to Winston’s side of the family.

The court held that the 2011 will was invalid. The will made in 2009 prevails and accordingly, the commercial property will be split equally between the 6 children.

If you would like information about challenging a will, contesting a will, probate disputes, or inheritance disputes, please call 01902 424927 and ask to speak to one of our specialist contentious probate lawyers; James Coles, Susan Ford or Philippa Rowley. Our team at George Green LLP are regarded as one of the Midlands' leading teams of will disputes and contentious probate solicitors. James Coles is a full member of ACTAPS (Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists) and Susan Ford is an associate member of ACTAPS. 

We offer a free initial free consultation and we can often act for clients who want to dispute a will or commence an inheritance dispute/probate dispute on a no win no fee basis. Alternatively, please e-mail us at contentiousprobate@georgegreen.co.uk providing a brief summary of the issues you wish to discuss with us, along with your contact details.

We have a dedicated practice team of contentious probate solicitors, covering all areas of the UK (with offices near Birmingham and in Wolverhampton) who are experienced in dealing with all types of contentious probate matters, including challenging a will and estate disputes.