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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2007, 16:06 GMT
Will gift of 10m 'extraordinary'
Kim Sing Man
Mr Man and his wife were left most of Mrs Bechal's fortune
The will of an 89-year-old woman who left 10m to an Essex restaurateur has been described as "extraordinary" and "troubling" by a High Court judge.

Before retiring to make a decision after the hearing, brought by Golda Bechal's nieces and nephews, Sir Donald Rattee said the will was "unexpected".

Mrs Bechal left most of her estate to Kim Sing Man and wife Bee Lian Man with charities the other key beneficiaries.

Sir Donald is due to announce a verdict on Friday.

Sandra Blackman, Barbara Green, Laurence Lebor, Louise Barnard and Mervyn Lebor have challenged their aunt's will, claiming she was so mentally frail the documents are invalid and they would be entitled to her estate under intestacy laws.

I can't help thinking that the will was an extraordinary will to have been made by a lady in her position
Sir Donald Rattee

Mrs Bechal, who lived in Grosvenor Square, London, died in 2004 - 10 years after she made the contested will.

During the hearing, the court had heard how Mr and Mrs Man, who live in Great Leighs, Chelmsford, and run a Chinese restaurant in Witham, handled Mrs Bechal's finances after she dispensed with her accountant's services that year.

Mrs Bechal, who had a portfolio of properties across the South East, was the Mans' landlady.

Barbara Green Mervyn Lebor and Sandra Blackman
Mrs Bechal's relatives say she was suffering from dementia

Penelope Reed, representing the Mans, said Mrs Bechal was of sound mind when she made the will and said the Mans had been frank about their "involvement" with Mrs Bechal who was "like a grandmother" to their family.

Sir Donald said it was strange that the 1994 will differed so much from a will, which has not been found, dated 1988, in which Mrs Bechal had left about 75% of her assets to charities.

"I can't help thinking that the 1994 will was an extraordinary will to have been made by a lady in her position, giving over 10m to Mr and Mrs Man, however much she had got to love them and treat them as part of her family," Sir Donald said.

"If she really knew what she was worth, is it really conceivable she would have made a will in those terms?"

The widow's family say she was suffering from dementia


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