Sisters fight for a slice of the family’s £3million property fortune

Three sisters fight for a slice of the family’s £3million property business fortune claiming they were cut out of their mother’s will by brother and father who believe only sons should inherit wealth

  • Husband and wife George and Ho Chin built a valuable property portfolio
  • Mrs Chin died in 2015 and left everything to her son Winston Chin
  • Daughters Ivy, Rose and Ruby are challenging their mother’s last will
  • They claim she only signed it due to pressure from their father and their brother 

Sisters Ruby Yeap (left) and Ivy Chin (right) outside the High Court for the hearing in dispute over their mother’s will 

Three sisters have become embroiled in a fight to claim a slice of their family’s £3million property business fortune after claiming they were cut out of their mother’s will by their brother and father who believe only sons son inherit wealth.

George Chin and wife, Ho Chin, created a valuable property portfolio after moving to Essex from Hong Kong in 1965 and starting a thriving restaurant business.

However when Mrs Chin died in 2015, aged 82, she left everything she had in her name to the only son of the family, Winston. That was despite him already having been given most of the family fortune – thought to be worth as much as £3million – as the sole male heir.

But now daughter, Ivy Chin, 60, – backed by sisters Rose, 61, and Ruby, 57, – are rebelling against the men and challenging their mother’s last will, made in 2011, claiming she only signed it due to pressure from their father and brother.

Their 87-year-old father, a fervent believer in tradition, had always been adamant that all of the Chin family’s fortune would go to his son alone and that is belief was that as the daughters were married, that they were ‘no longer part’ of the Chin household.

However, their mother ‘wanted to show her love to her daughters, who she loved as well as her son’ and wanted to leave something behind for them, they claim.

The sisters are fighting to uphold a previous will from 2009, under which their mother left her last remaining asset, £185,000 worth of property in Southend, to her daughters.

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George Chin (pictured above) is alleged to have been abusive and manipulative towards his wife

Ivy’s barrister Aidan Briggs alleged that, whilst financially successful, the family environment was not happy, that George Chin was ‘abusive and manipulative’.

‘He alternated between physical violence and emotional bullying, threatening suicide and tearful reconciliation,’ he told Judge Milwyn Jarman QC.

Mr Briggs claimed Mrs Chin’s desire to leave her daughters something was a ‘constant source of friction’ with her traditionalist husband.

And after suffering a stroke in 2009, the ailing mother-of-six had been ‘physically and emotionally dependent’ on her son and husband, he claimed.

It left her ‘defenceless’ against their influence and she ‘eventually capitulated’, changing her will in 2011 to completely disinherit her daughters, he said.

Winston’s barrister, Marcus Flavin, denied that she had been pressured by either father or son, who he said did not even know she changed her will.

In her evidence, Ivy described her dad as a ‘compulsive gambler’ who was ‘coercive and threatening’.

‘He was dominating, he was also manipulative and cunning,’ she told the judge.

Her sisters Rose and Ruby gave evidence for Ivy, while another Lia, 47, supported her brother, and a fifth, Lydia, 54, did not make a statement for the case.

The Chin family’s property in Southend (pictured above), which is at the centre of dispute between Ivy Chin and brother Winston Chin

In the witness box, Rose, 61, insisted her mother wanted the girls to have her £185,000 share of the family’s Southend restaurant when she died.

‘At that time, she always pointed out that she had five daughters and all six children she wanted to treat equally,’ she told the court.

‘She was happy that my father passed his share to his son, but insisted she had five daughters who helped in the shop.’

Her younger sister, Ruby Yeap, 57, said: ‘My father’s opinion is that the daughters, whilst they’re married, are not a part of the Chin household. His belief was it would all go to the sole son in the family.’

Mr Briggs said most of the family wealth – believed by the sisters to be worth up to £3m – was transferred to Winston after his marriage in 1989, but Mrs Chin did not want her daughters to be left empty-handed.

The 2011 will which eventually disinherited them was procured by the ‘undue influence’ of George and Winston, or alternatively she did not understand and approve of its contents, he claimed.

A later document under which Mrs Chin had transferred ownership of her Southend property to Winston’s side of the family was also tainted, he claimed.

He is asking the judge to overturn both the 2011 will and the transfer, so that the sisters can inherit the property under the 2009 will.

‘It is clear that George and Winston both firmly believed that Winston should inherit the entire Chin estate, and that the deceased should not be allowed to make any dispositions in favour of her daughters,’ he said.

‘It is also apparent that Winston orchestrated the wholesale disenfranchisement of his sisters, and was involved in every step of every transaction.

‘After Rose, Ruby and Ivy were cut out of contact with her, she was left defenceless against the influence of George and Winston, and eventually capitulated.

‘However, she did so against her will, rather than by undergoing a dramatic change of mind.’

He said the dispute had completely torn apart a once close knit family, who had worked shoulder to shoulder in the restaurant business.

‘This family is divided in two, nearly everyone has chosen a side,’ he said.

Giving evidence, Winston Chin denied that he or his dad brought any pressure to bear on his mother, who was not the downtrodden, dominated wife which the sisters described.

‘She had a voice, she knew her own mind and she was the strongest out of my mum and dad,’ he said.

His barrister said: ‘There is nothing coming anywhere near establishing that either Winston or George exercised undue influence over the deceased in order to coerce her to make the 2011 will.

‘It was drafted by a solicitor, after a meeting at which they were not present.

‘None of the claimant’s witnesses can give evidence of actual coercion. All they can allege is that George, in particular, had a domineering personality.

‘That is in dispute and various points in the claimant’s own evidence suggest the family dynamics were not as clearcut as she suggests.’

He said claims that George was an abusive problem gambler were a ‘fantasy’, a ‘soap opera’ made up by Ivy.

If the validity of any will was to be doubted, it was the 2009 document, said the barrister.

George Chin is not a party to the case, but denies he was abusive or did anything to put pressure on his late wife.

The judge will now give his decision at a later date.

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