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Even though it’s probably not every day that you see people in Singapore discuss issues related to their wills, it’s no secret these days that wills have begun to be more prominent in society despite the inauspicious notes that they may bring along for some.

And if you’re still sceptical of the effectiveness of wills, maybe you won’t be after reading this article.

Recently, according to Lianhe Zaobao, a court case regarding the splitting of assets was thrust into the public eye due to the lack of a will.

The Case

The case, which began in August last year, involved a semi-detached house located near Macpherson at Jalan Jermin.

The property’s owner, Chen Ya Mei, passed away in 2015 without leaving a will behind.

Her husband passed in 1976, leaving her assets to be split equally between her seven children, five daughters and two sons.

While everything may make sense at this point, it certainly did not for one person: Chen’s eldest son, identified by Zaobao as 71-year-old Wang Zhen Wen.

How the Siblings Handled the Property

With everyone having joint ownership of the house at that time, all seven of Chen’s children got together and agreed to sell the property to Wang’s future son-in-law for roughly $2.76 million back in 2017.

The money was then split in July 2018 amongst the seven siblings, with each sibling receiving around $300,000.

Wang’s Lawsuit; Claimed that He Put in Most Money to Buy the Property Back Then

However, it was at this point when Wang Zhen Wen decided to take things to court and demanded his younger siblings to give him their share of the money.

According to him, he felt that he deserved to acquire all of the money from selling the property as he forked in the most amount of money to help his mother buy the property back then in 1988.

He even claimed that his mother was only the “nominal” owner of the property on paper.

However, this was soon met with objection by the other Wang siblings and their family members.

They brought up how Chen was a successful businesswoman and investor prior to her passing, and that she had enough funds to purchase the property even without Wang’s help.

This was further proved by how Chen was able to afford another private property back in the 1970s, which she later sold to purchase the Jalan Jermin property.

Claims of Wang Being the “Real” Owner

According to the plaintiff’s speech, Wang insisted that he bought the semi-detached house in 1988 as his place of residence after getting married. At that point in time, the property cost around $62,000.

He also claimed that he and his mother agreed that he would pay for the mortgage repayment, and his mother would help pay part of the cash payment. However, he would still be the “real” owner of the bungalow.

In order to “reassure” his mother, he chose to list his mother as the owner of the property.

Outcome of Court Case

The case was brought to the High Court last August, with the defendants of the case being the six other beneficiaries of the estate. The six people included Chen’s other children and one of her granddaughters.

And today (25 May), Senior Judge Lai Siew Choo announced through a written decision that he had lost the court case against his family.

Judge’s Opinion: Insufficient Evidence to Support Wang’s Claim, Wang’s Actions “Unacceptable”

In court, the judge mentioned that apart from Wang’s own statement, there was no other actual evidence that supported his claims.

In addition to that, Chen never publicly disclosed at settings such as family gatherings that Wang would inherit the bungalow, or that Wang was the owner of the bungalow.

The judge agreed with the defendants that Wang’s claims against his mother in the lawsuit were false.

The claims include Wang saying that his mother was unable to purchase a house with her savings, and the judge even said that such a claim was basically Wang slandering all the efforts that his mother put in for the family in the past.

In addition to that, Wang tried constantly to portray himself as a filial son when the truth was quite the opposite.

Before Chen’s passing, she had apparently complained to other children that Wang often neglected her and treated her rudely, and said that he wanted to leave his mother alone in the bungalow.

From the judge’s perspective, Wang’s actions were unacceptable in every way. Even though Wang owned his own property, he and his family chose to live in Chen’s house for 27 years without paying rent at all.

Even when sharing his mother’s medical bills, he tried to take advantage of his other siblings.

Background of Chen and Family

Based on court documents, Chen and her husband set up a tyre company in the 1960s, with the business registered under Chen’s name.

Thereafter, the couple got to know Malaysian businessmen and made the decision for Chen’s husband to work in Malaysia while Chen stayed in Singapore to be in charge of the tyre company.

Wang and his younger brother, Wang Zhen Yi also joined the business afterwards.

Featured Image: Zolnierek / Shutterstock.com

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