The entire fortune of a wealthy Sydney woman has been bequeathed to her neighbours, who helped with chores around her home.
Widowed Betty Harris left $12.5 million to her neighbours, Robert and Beatrice Gray, who had lived next door to her palatial Point Piper property for more than three decades.
The former Sydney University academic and barrister, who had no children, passed away in 2009 at the age of 95.
Soon after, her niece took up a very bitter legal battle over her estate.
In 1996, Betty Harris signalled that her niece Coralie Hart would receive all of her assets, but she later changed her will, the Supreme Court was told.
The move followed an argument over Hart's plans to put her aunt in a nursing home, and have a manager oversee her finances.
In 2005, Hart sought control over her aunt's affairs when her health started to deteriorate.
Justice White told the Court that Mrs Hart wanted to "protect her inheritance".
"She was suspicious that Mr and Mrs Gray would attempt to take control of Mrs Harris' finances," Justice White said.
The Supreme Court was told Mrs Harris described her nephews as a "pathetic lot", and said that one niece was a "b***h".
"They all want their bit of money," Mrs Harris reportedly said.
Mrs Harris kept to herself after the death of her husband in 1991, and wasn't close to any of her relatives.
She said she left the money to her neighbours because they would be surprise, but her family were just waiting for her to die.
"I am determined that my relatives after what they have put me through will not get one cent," she reportedly said.
The Court heard that Mrs Gray would buy her neighbour groceries and Mr Gray would do odd jobs, like changing lightbulbs and take out her wheely bins.
The Grays also protected Mrs Harris's property to ensure it wouldn't be broken into.
"I'm extremely grateful to Betty Harris," Beatrice Gray told Fairfax this morning.
The Supreme Court heard that Harris's husband, Kieth Harris, was sentenced in 1987 over a conspiracy to pay off the Corrective Services Minister for an inmate's early release.
Harris was also the vice chair of the Sydney Turf Club and a horse breeder who made it big by manufacturing televisions and radios.
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