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Neighbor inherits $12.5 million

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, December 3, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

A little kindness goes a long way. Just ask the Sydney, Australia, neighbors of Betty Harris, who were surprised to learn they had inherited her $12.5 million estate upon her death in 2009.

The neighbors, Beatrice Gray and her husband, Robert, brought Harris bread and milk, helped her with her chores and paid her bills.

The widowed Harris had no children and was estranged from her nieces and nephews. One niece, the prior beneficiary of the estate before Harris revised her will, waged a nasty, two-year legal battle but lost. According to Australia's News.com, the niece wanted to put Harris in a nursing home against her wishes. Harris also told people she hadn't spoken to her nieces or nephews for 13 years and she swore they would get none of her wealth.

Although a doctor determined Harris, age 95 when she died, was suffering from mild dementia in 2005 when she revised her will, the court did not believe she was unaware of her actions.

News.com reported that Harris had explained her bequest by saying: "The Grays would be surprised, (while) my family are waiting for me to die." She added that "I am determined that my relatives after what they have put me through will not get one cent."

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48 Comments
evette
December 10, 2012 at 8:08 am

to: get it right Dec 8 2012 maybe you need to get it right and reread the article. She had NO children, she had nieces and nephews only. And they hadn't spoken to her in 13 years, and that was only when 1 of the neices wanted to put her in a nursing home. And her neighbors did not even know that they were in her will, they may not of even known she had money since they actually paid her bills for her. I'm sorry you have such a cynical look on life but there are actual people who are nice for the sake of just BEING nice.

Cindy B.
December 10, 2012 at 3:29 am

Kudo's to the neighbors. The Bible plainly says, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
You know it's a crying shame that you can't do something good for someone without the rest of the world thinking that you are OUT to get something.
And furthermore, to whom ever, "Get It Right," is, you need to read the article again, she didn't have any Children, only greedy nieces and nephews.
I don't blame the lady one bit, if my family members treated me like that, I would do the same thing she did!!!!!
They wouldn't get one RED CENT.....
Neighbors, enjoy, but PLEASE PLEASE keep doing what you did with her, money can't buy everything and you might need some help one day that your New Found Wealth can't buy for you :-)

es barron
December 09, 2012 at 3:37 am

Unfortunately family relationships become different when it comes to inheritances or potential windfalls. My 76 year-old father recently had a heart attack and my two sisters attempted to obtain both financial and medical power of attorneys and put my mother in a psychiatric hospital in an attempt to gain control over all of the property and bank accounts. Neither one of my parents were incompetent. I was out of state and not informed until their attorney called me to inform me of their wishes. Fortunately, both my parents had the foresight of preparing all their documents 5 years before they became necessary naming me as the alternate without my knowledge until recently. Suffice to say both my sisters were furious with my parents and I was "surprised" to learn that they had faith that I would not put them in a convalescent home in their old age nor raid their bank accounts. Neither of which have happened. The best advice for anyone with elderly parents is to prepare your legal documents as if your children would liquidate everything without your consent. Even attorneys have been known to raid the estates when named as conservators so it is best to find someone to trust implicitly.

get it right
December 08, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Too bad, the neighbors knew how to play the old woman. They were sly like a fox, and I know many people who admitt to having done the same in hopes of financial gain. Her grandchildren are the losers here, because of her very own greedy and jealous children that she obviously did not raise to be moral and just. Blood is thicker then water, and she played a major role with how she was treated later in life. A tradgety no less.

sam
December 08, 2012 at 10:17 pm

I think it's great. As she expected, I am sure the neighbors were surprised. And I would guess they will appreciate it and be less changed by it than the nieces and nephews. no sympathy for them.

Jim
December 08, 2012 at 9:32 pm

The family was mad as hell, and me,....I'm doin' well....

God is great, beer is good and people are crazy....

Amen....

Cindy
December 08, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Good for the neighbors. Those that help should be rewarded in someway. As soon as my husbands 1 brother received a big check for doing NOTHING, then he complained he didn't get more. What a pile he is! He deserved nothing! Oh I might add he was also there to clean out the house; then called an antique dealer and found out it was worth nothing. We took things for rememberance not for greed. I would like to say that we were accused of taking thousands of dollars after the fact too and the brothers have not spoke a word since. It is a shame what death does to people. It is a sad world we live in today. I WOULD NEVER WILL MY PARENTS TO DIE FOR GREED!

Cindy
December 08, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Good for the neighbors. Those that help should be rewarded in someway. As soon as my husbands 1 brother received a big check for doing NOTHING, then he complained he didn't get more. What a pile he is! He deserved nothing! Oh I might add he was also there to clean out the house; then called an antique dealer and found out it was worth nothing. We took things for rememberance not for greed. I would like to say that we were accused of taking thousands of dollars after the fact too and the brothers have not spoke a word since. It is a shame what death does to people. It is a sad world we live in today. I WWOULD NEVER WILL MY PARENTS TO DIE FOR GREED!