1989: Sole heir; 1996: Cut out of millions

1989: Sole heir; 1996: Cut out of millions 

Two sisters’ legal battle over mum’s contrasting wills splits siblings


A FIGHT in court between two sisters over the contrasting wills made by their late mother has split the family.

Ophthalmologist Caroline Chee Ka Lin, 47, the youngest of six siblings, says a 1996 will, which cuts her out of the inheritance, is invalid.


She wants the High Court to uphold the 1989 one which practically made her the sole heir of her mother’s estate.


But her sister Muriel Chee Mu Lin, 53, wants the court to declare the 1996 will as the true and last will of their mother, Madam Goh Hun Keong.


After Madam Goh’s death in 2004, Caroline started the legal process to settle the estate under the 1989 will, but was stopped from doing so by the legally-trained Muriel.


Last year, the court ordered Muriel to file the current suit to determine the validity of the 1996 will. The hearing opened yesterday.


Madam Goh, born in 1921, was an English teacher. But she quit teaching to invest in real estate shortly after marrying Dr Chee Siew Oon in 1945. The couple had seven children, among whom six are still alive.


At the time of her death, the matriarch owned several properties, the main one being a Holland Road house now worth about $13 million.


In 1995, she transferred a half-share in the house to Caroline and her husband at a ‘discounted’ price.


She made the 1989 will about a month after Dr Chee was incapacitated by a stroke. Apart from providing for his needs and the grandchildren’s education and giving $150,000 to one son, she left the rest of her estate to Caroline.


Seven years later, she made another will, this time giving Caroline an option to buy her half-share of the house. This will ordered that the sales proceeds, with the rest of her estate, be shared equally among Caroline’s five siblings.


The 1996 will cut Caroline out of the inheritance; Muriel, from getting nothing under the 1989 will, was now to get a one-fifth share of her mother’s assets.


Caroline is calling four doctors to testify that her mother was not mentally capable in 1996 of making the will, which she will claim was made apparently under Muriel’s influence.


Muriel is disputing the allegations.


The line has been drawn among the siblings: One brother will bat for Muriel, two brothers and a sister for Caroline.


Caroline’s lawyer Giam Chin Toon noted in his opening statement that the trio, who get nothing from the 1989 will, will testify against their interests.


Muriel’s lawyer Molly Lim argued that even with the later will, Caroline will get a larger share of the assets than her siblings, who each stand to inherit less than $2.5 million.


She noted that half the house was transferred to Caroline for $2.5 million. With the current value of the half-share at $6.5 million, she stands to gain $4 million from its sale.


Source: Straits Times

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