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Nurse investigated for becoming beneficiary of dying man’s $939,000 will

by Julia Medew, The Age, 25 July 2016

Ms Medew reports on the case of a 92-year old Melbourne man who apparently changed his will to leave his entire estate to the manager of the nursing home he had moved to before his death.

A Melbourne nurse who mysteriously became the sole beneficiary of a dying man’s $939,000 wealth is being investigated by the nurses’ board.

Last winter, Lionel Markey Cox, a 92-year-old bachelor with no close family, was taken to Cambridge House nursing home in Collingwood because he was too weak to stay in the Fitzroy house where he’d lived most of his life.

He could be suspicious of those who helped look after him, accusing them of wanting to be written into his will. The old Labor voter told neighbours he planned to leave his property to the state or its institutions because they had looked after him so well. He was particularly fond of St Vincent’s Hospital and the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Coolibah Centre on Brunswick Street.

So when Mr Cox died in August last year, his neighbours were shocked to learn that he had donated his $900,000 estate to a nurse in charge of the aged-care facility.

The beneficiary was Abha Anuradha Kumar, the manager of aged care at Cambridge House. She was also given about $36,000 in cash and anything else he still owned.

The case raises questions about the checks and balances around wills in Victoria, where there is no law to prevent health professionals and carers becoming the executors, beneficiaries or witnesses of their patients’ or clients’ wills.

Kathy Wilson, a specialist wills and estates lawyer and principal at Aitken Partners, said there was very little protection against financial elder abuse with wills, and that there is no criminal offence for coercion or manipulation of a person in relation to their will.

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