Most estate and trust conflicts for which our law firm is retained, either to represent the fiduciary (executor, trustee, etc.) or the beneficiary to whom the fiduciary duty is owed, involve anywhere from several hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars. The fact is that the substantial time and expense associated with litigating smaller amounts in dispute can often be cost-prohibitive for the client. Because the matters that we assist with typically involve family fortunes within the above-described range, wealth wars erupting over $4.2-plus billion are rare indeed.
However, that is precisely what occurred as recently noted in a February 2, 2010 post by the Michigan Probate Law Blog, in the case of Hong Kong tycoon Nina Wang. Asia's wealthiest woman, she died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 69. Following her passing, a gentleman named Tony Chan, who also was her former lover and feng shui master, revealed a 2006 will which purported to leave her entire fortune (which has been estimated to possibly range up to $13 billion) to him instead of to charity. In what might be the mother of all will contests, the Court ruled that the will was a forgery and that the signatures contained on the document were a "highly skilled simulation." In fact, in a 326-page opinion, the court held that Mr. Chan "lied and withheld relevant information from the court regarding the circumstances leading to the preparation of the document."
Lost in the fact that Mr. Chan has apparently now been arrested for his shenanigans is the fact that another will of Ms. Wang's actually bequested $10 million to Mr. Chan. Seems like Mr. Chan could have benefitted from a phrase that we often toss around here in Razorback country, which rings especially true in this case: "Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered."