Sports Coach Dispute Over His Aunts £2m Fortune

A table tennis coach is fighting over a £2 million inheritance after his Aunt left her entire fortune to a neighbour.

The award-winning coach, Derek Seager and his brother Ian claim that James De Jong used coercive measures against their aunt, Ada Richards, to pressurise her into leaving everything to him in her Will by ‘exploiting’ his role as a carer by separating her from friends and family.

Mrs Richards, who was a widow, drew up her will in 2010, twelve months before she passed away, aged 92. In her Will, she bequeathed her entire fortune, including her £1.5 million home in Highgate, to Mr De Jong who was her main carer in the years leading up to her death.

As Mrs Richards’ next of kin, the Seager brothers felt that they should receive all of the estate. However, Mr De Jong maintains the widow had not spoken to her nephews since the 1950s and ‘despised’ their side of the family.

He insists the 2010 Will is valid and confirmed the Seager brothers only started their claim once they were found by heir hunters following Mrs Richard’s death.

The Court heard how Mr De Jong, 74, resided in the same street as Mrs Richards along with her husband James, who was a hairdresser, since the 1970s. It was only when Mrs Richards was sadly widowed in 1992, that Mr De Jong took a key role in her life – and was also her main carer after she broke her hip in 2007.

Mr Seager, 73, a coach with the Aldershot and District Table Tennis League who was handed a national award by Table Tennis England for his work, and his brother both challenged the validity of the Will – and applied to the court for a ruling that the 2010 Will should be unenforceable.

The Seager brothers’ barrister Gabriel Fadipe claimed Mrs Richards was “afraid” of her neighbour, saying:

“Mr De Jong told Mrs Richards there was no one else who could look after her if he did not, and that he would not do so if she did not leave her estate to him.”

In his defence, Mr De Jong said:

“That never crossed my mind. My pledge was to care for her until her passing.”

Mr Fadipe informed the court there were two separate incidents where Mr De Jong was accused of abusive behaviour towards Mrs Richards, purportedly striking her with a newspaper and tipping a cup of water over her. He claimed Mrs Richards clearly spelled it out that she never wanted to see Mr De Jong once she was taken to a care home in 2010.

Meanwhile, Mr De Jong’s barrister Julian Reed advised the court he had been charged with the assault in question but was found innocent in March 2011. Subsequently, an allegation was made by another neighbour but Mr De Jong strongly repudiated either incident took place.

Mr De Jong told the Court

“One thing I know for certain was that when Ada was in pain she would say strange things.”

Judge Nicholas Parfitt will issue a ruling on the case at a later date.

As a Will writer, what is your opinion of this case?