Thamby Kannu Parvathi, an 84-year-old blind widow, successfully sued two of her children to recover almost S$1.37 million (~RM4.63 million) owed from the rental and sale of her late husband’s shophouse.
Her younger daughter, S. Geetha Subramaniam, and only son S. Morgan claimed that their mother had gifted them S$1.36 million of the proceeds. The High Court dismissed their claims and reprimanded them for obtaining her signature for a gift document that only her son's friend knew about as he had handled the sale of the property.
Ruling in favour of Madam Thamby, Senior Judge Lai Siu Chiu stated that the pair had exploited their mother's blindness and old age.😡 The gift document was voided as the widow was unaware she had given away half of the Little India shophouse.
As the shophouse was excluded from her late husband's will, Madam Thamby was entitled to half of it under the Intestate Succession Act.
In 2016, the property sold for more than S$2.6 million, with the proceeds to be divided among Madam Thamby and her three children upon completion of the sale in 2017. A few days later, the widow signed a document prepared by Ms Geetha which stated that her portion of the sales proceeds would be 'gifted' to Ms Geetha and Mr Morgan.
Madam Thamby testified that she had repeatedly asked for her share of the sales proceeds in 2017 and again in 2018 or 2019. When told by her younger daughter that she did not have a share in profits, the widow approached her elder daughter who brought her to a lawyer.
The siblings contested that since Madam Thamby did nothing to dispute it for over two years, it was indicative that she had intended to give it away but the judge disagreed with their reasoning.
"The property agent handling the sale, a friend of Mr Mogan’s, should not have witnessed the signing as he was not an independent third party who could be objective. The contents of the gift document were incorrect and/or false...Even if the defendants and Geetha in particular took care of the deceased while he was alive, why should the plaintiff have to thank them on his behalf by forgoing her inheritance?"
(Source: The Star)
When we leave this world, we leave not only our family and friends behind but also our assets. To avoid disputes among family members, it would be wise to plan our estate, write our will and leave it with a custodian while still alive. Our last wishes would then be fulfilled by an executor until the final distribution of assets is made to the desired beneficiaries.
For the scenario above, we observe the consequences of the exclusion of assets from the will. Following the Intestate Succession Act, the law divides our estate - which may not have been according to our wishes. Worse still, this may incite discourse among the beneficiaries and lead to unnecessary lawsuits.