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Judge rules that Feng Shui Master forged Nina Wang's will

The Nina Wang case captivated Asia in much the same way the Brooke Astor case made headlines in New York last year.  Only, instead of questions surrounding whether a multi-millionaire's will was invalid, the Nina Wang case involved whether Tony Chan Chun-chuen forged the will of Asia's richest woman, to the tune of about thirteen billion dollars, according to some estimates.  She died at age 69 in 2007.Nina_Wang 2

The case raged for months, and The Probate Lawyer Blog featured several articles about it.  The Hong Kong judge carefully deliberated since closing arguments took place in late September.  Earlier today, the High Court released the 326-page ruling that declared Wang's 2006 will to be a forgery.

Tony Chan contended that Wang had left him her fortune because, rather than being a mere feng shui adviser for her, he was also her secret lover.  Of course, he was married during the affair.  And he was 20 years younger than she was.

Lawyers for the Wang family and charities (the vast majority of her fortune from the prior will, in 2002, was earmarked for charity), said Chan forged the new will.  They also claimed, alternatively, that Chan had tricked her into signing it by declaring it to be a "feng shui will" that he was supposed to destroy as part of a ceremony to help extend her life.

If you're interested, you can read the Court's decision here (don't worry, the helpful Hong Kong Court also provided a much shorter summary of the long legal document which is also available through the same link).  Here are the highlights:

Nina Wang did have an intimate relationship with Tony Chan, but she wanted to keep it a secret.  Despite giving him lavish gifts and payments of money, she didn't want to give him her entire fortune.

Rather, she held true to her wishes in the 2002 will, leaving most of her wealth to charity.

Wang did, in fact, sign a new document in 2006.  But it wasn't the will Tony Chan said it was.  No -- that one was forged . . . through a "highly skilled simulation".  Instead, Wang signed a Specific Bequest Will leaving Chan $10 million (poor guy). 

The Judge didn't find Chan believable -- pointing to his criminal past, among other reasons.  Chan lied and withheld relevant information from the Court, the Judge said.  And, the 2006 will was written in English, not Chinese like the 2002 will.

The judge also said he didn't believe Chan's wife either, who also offered testimony to support the validity of the 2006 will.

Chan's lawyer already promised an appeal.  But, Chan has other concerns in the meantime.  Chan may be referred for criminal prosecution based on the finding of forgery.  And he won't even have the $10 million from the "Specific Bequest Will".  That partial will wasn't located and Chan didn't offer it for admission to the Court.  So he may not even get that amount.

The real irony here is that Chan's path is eerily similar to Nina Wang's.  Her husband was kidnapped in 1990 and was never found.  (In fact, that's how she met Chan -- he was supposed to help locate her husband).  After Wang's husband was declared dead, the father-in-law challenged the will that left Nina Wang everything. 

And, just like in this case, the will was found to be a forgery and Nina Wang was charged criminally.

But, Nina Wang ultimately won on appeal and was exonerated.  She inherited her husband's fortune, despite originally losing her case.  Will her feng shui master/former lover be as lucky on appeal?

Feb 4, 2010 Update -- Tony Chan has been arrested because of the ruling.  Read the story here

Posted by:  Author and probate attorney Andrew W. Mayoras, co-author of Trial & Heirs:  Famous Fortune Fights! and co-founder and shareholder of The Center for Probate Litigation and The Center for Elder Law in metro-Detroit, Michigan, which concentrate in probate litigation, estate planning, and elder law.  You can email him at awmayoras @

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New Book To Help Avoid Celebrity Estate Planning Blunders

“Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” Explores High-Profile Cases & Offers Expert Advice



The highly publicized estate battles of several deceased celebrities have cast a bright spotlight on the importance of having the proper estate planning. Although mega-rich celebrities seem to be affected overwhelmingly by these brutal family squabbles, the new book


"Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!" is designed to help every family, regardless of income level, avoid the financial pitfalls that drained bank accounts and created huge family rifts for the dozens of superstars profiled in the book. 

“Trial & Heirs” uses real stories to help readers steer clear of the same celebrity “estate errors” as they plan for their own “heirs.” The stories cover well known legal fights over famous fortunes: including the recent battles over Michael Jackson’s estate, along with other celebrities like Ted Kennedy; Anna Nicole Smith; Brooke Astor; Heath Ledger, Ray Charles; Princess Di; Jimi Hendrix; Frank Sinatra; Martin Luther King Jr.; and Rosa Parks… as well as many others that most people aren’t even aware of.  The book gives readers a front row seat in the courtroom while the authors replay the “tabloid drama”, point out what went wrong in these riveting cases, and teach readers how to avoid similar errors.

Continue reading "New Book To Help Avoid Celebrity Estate Planning Blunders" »

Feng Shui, Fortune and Fun

The battle over the wishes of Nina Wang, Asia's richest woman before she died, has been taking center stage in the Hong Kong courts for several weeks.  The probate trial is reaching its high point with the testimony of Feng Shui adviser Tony Chan.  Tony Chan

He contends Wang's 2006 will left him everything -- some $13 billion dollars.  Wang's prior will gave her estate to charity and family members.  Their lawyers contend Chan is not only lying, but is guilty of fraud, forgery, undue influence and taking advantage of a woman almost 20 years older than he.  My previous article about the will contest trial details the allegations, as well the early fireworks when the trial started.  

But those were just the appetizers.  Tony Chan has taken the stand to plead his case for the riches.  He said he met Wang on March 12, 1992 at a luncheon, where she asked for his help locating her husband.  Wang's husband, Teddy Wang had been missing since being kidnapped in 1990. 

Continue reading "Feng Shui, Fortune and Fun" »

Nina Wang will contest trial gets underway

I posted a blog article about the Nina Wang case several weeks ago, describing the dispute over the estate of Asia's richest woman.  The case pits the heirs of her prior will (a charity and family members) against the beneficiary of her most recent will, her feng shui master who said he was her secret lover.Nina-wang

The trial started this week, and is expected to last for 8 weeks.  A few new details have already come to light.  First, the charity's probate attorney contends that the recent will was a forgery, and that Nina Wang was too ill from cancer to sign her name in 2006.

Second, the feng shui master -- who claims Nina Wang left all her money to him out of love -- was married during there secret love affair (that was previously reported to have lasted 14 years). 

Continue reading "Nina Wang will contest trial gets underway" »

Hong Kong's doozy of a will contest case

Nina Wang was Asia's richest woman and one of the wealthiest women in the world -- with a larger fortune than the Queen of England, according to Forbes.  She died of cancer, without children, on April 3, 2007.  So who inherited this vast wealth -- estimated to be as high as $13 billion (U.S. value)?  Why, her feng shui master, of course.Nina_Wang

Tony Chan was her personal consultant of all things feng shui.  Feng shui is an ancient Chinese philosophy of art and science that is used to balance the energies of the space people occupy to promote good health and fortune (at least, that's what I read somewhere).  Must be pretty powerful stuff, because Nina Wang signed a will in 2006 leaving the esteemed Tony Chan EVERYTHING. 

This will replaced a will from four years prior that benefited charity and family members.  So of course, the 2006 will was promptly attacked in court, launching perhaps the biggest will contest proceeding Asia has ever seen (or at least, Hong Kong).  They claimed that Chang used undue influence by convincing Wang that she'd enjoy eternal life (or at least a very, very long life) by signing the will.  Sadly, it didn't work -- she was 69 when she passed. 

Continue reading "Hong Kong's doozy of a will contest case" »