Sep 01, 2021

Ex-nurse may have to return $1 million inherited from aged care resident she knew for 24 days

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In 2015, Abha Kumar was caring for 92-year-old Lionel Cox at a Victorian aged care home.

When Kumar discovered the gentleman had no known family and was in possession of a valuable estate, she purchased a will kit and persuaded the elderly man to make her his sole beneficiary.

Weeks later, Cox died, and Kumar was able to liquidate his assets to the tune of more than $1 million.

However, in 2019, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal found Kumar guilty of professional misconduct, and she was banned from being a registered health practitioner and from working or volunteering in any type of aged care facility.

Fast forward to 8 August 2021, and Kumar received a visit from lawyers for State Trustees. She was served with a “summons for revocation”.

State Trustees’ lawyers claim the will was not executed in compliance with legislation, in part because it was not signed by Mr Cox in the presence of both witnesses, according to a report in The Age.

“It was not consonant with the deceased’s natural affections or moral duties to bequeath his entire estate to a person whom he met only 24 days prior to the making of the will,” State Trustees lawyers allege.

In Victoria, there are no laws to prevent health professionals or carers from becoming executors, beneficiaries or witnesses of a resident or client’s will. Without legal protections, vulnerable people could be susceptible to unscrupulous operators.

Initially, Kumar claimed she would donate the inheritance from Cox to charities. However, she told the VCAT she kept the proceeds of the estate, and used them in part to fund her legal defence.

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