‘Loyal’ son who is locked in legal fight with his sister over their late father’s £100m fortune was told by the property tycoon to ‘paddle his own f******* canoe’ before cutting him out of his will, court hears
- Louise Reeves is locked in High Court battle with brother Bill over father’s will
- Louise, 35, stands to inherit £80million under her father Kevin Reeves’ will
- Bill, however, was left a clutch of personal belongings worth £200,000
- Bill accused Louise of coercing their ailing father into changing his will in 2014
- Kevin, who built his wealth through a property investment business, died in 2019
A ‘rags-to-riches’ property king told his son he would have to ‘paddle his own f****** canoe’ before leaving an £80million fortune to his daughter, a court heard.
Bill Reeves, 47, was left just personal belongings when his property tycoon father Kevin rewrote his will to leave the majority of his vast fortune to his sister before his death in 2019.
Former hairdresser daughter Louise, 35, stood to inherit her father’s Rolls Royce and assets worth up to £80million, while Bill got a clutch of personal effects worth about £200,000.
Bill claims there was no reason why his father would cut him out and that his sister must have been behind the decision, having bullied and coerced him into making the ‘inexplicable’ will.
But lawyers for Louise say there was ample evidence that Kevin wanted Louise to take the reins of his empire when he died and that Bill – already rich – did not need his help.
Her barrister, Thomas Dumont QC, insisted before Mr Justice Michael Green that Kevin had not talked through the will with Louise before he signed it in 2014.
‘As we now know, Kevin did not discuss his testamentary intentions with Louise prior to making the will, though he told Bill in her hearing that he (Bill) would have to paddle his own f****** canoe’, said the QC.
But lawyers for Bill say father and son had a ‘good relationship’ and that Kevin – for whom ‘blood was thicker than water’ – never gave any indication that he was going to cut his son out of his inheritance.
Bill Reeves (pictured) claims there was no reason why his father would cut him out and that his sister must have been behind the decision, having bullied and coerced him into making the ‘inexplicable’ will
Louise Reeves (pictured), who could get £80million under her father’s will, has been accused of ‘coercing’ Kevin Reeves into leaving her most of his fortune as she is allegedly ‘materialistic’
Kevin Reeves built a vast personal fortune through a £100million property investment business, despite being left as an orphan to a convent as a child, and leaving school by the age of 12.
He died at the age of 71, in 2019, leaving the majority of his wealth to Louise, sparking the High Court battle between her and her brother.
Last week, the court heard that, despite humble beginnings, ‘tough’ Kevin had through his ‘ingenuity and hard work’ made himself very rich by the time he died.
He had four kids – Louise and Bill, estranged elder son Mark, and Lisa Murray, who did not know her father until she was in her 20s.
In a will signed in 2012, he intended to give 10 per cent shares of his fortune to two of Mark’s children, with the rest split equally between Louise, Bill and Lisa.
But a new will signed in 2014 reduced Bill’s share from up to £26.6million to only a clutch of personal belongings worth £200,000.
Louise would get 80% of her father’s estate – worth up to £80million – plus land and his Rolls Royce Phantom, with Lisa getting £20million.
In court, Bill now claims that the will was the result of ‘undue influence’ from Louise, with Kevin’s ‘dominant’ daughter having ‘bullied’ their father into cutting him out.
Property tycoon Mr Reeves (pictured) had four children but left 80 per cent of his £100million fortune to his youngest daughter, Louise, 35, when he died aged 71 in 2019, the court heard
He claims his Toni and Guy-trained sister ‘likes money’ and ‘flash things’ and so had motivation for coercing their father into leaving her the lion’s share of his fortune.
But Mr Dumont said a solicitor’s notes for the will showed Kevin believed Bill was ‘doing very well in his own right’ and did ‘not feel he needed to benefit from the estate’.
‘He slowly trained and cultivated Louise to take over running of the business so that, as he anticipated, by the time of his death she would be helping to run the business that she was to inherit’, he argued.
‘Kevin loved Louise, and he also knew that she had the strength to succeed in his businesses, though he warned her that she would have to be tough – the vultures would be coming.’
For Bill, Constance McDonnell QC argued the decision to completely change the will could only be explained by Louise exerting influence over Kevin, who was ill with a lung disease.
She said: ‘At the time Kevin is said to have given instructions for the 2014 will, Louise was acting as gatekeeper to him, was particularly hostile to other family members, and would disparage Bill to Kevin.
‘Kevin had a tough exterior – those who encountered him in a business context found him memorably difficult as a negotiator, and he seems to have enjoyed the process of making business deals.
‘This case, however, is not about the business side of Kevin’s character, but about his domestic self as a family man.’
She said the new will, cutting out Bill and leaving Louise rich, had come as a shock to everyone who knew Kevin.
‘Kevin enjoyed a good relationship with Bill, and – despite his habitual directness – gave him no indication that he intended to exclude him from his will’, she said.
Louise, backed by her sister Lisa Murray in court, is asking the judge to uphold the will leaving her £80million.
Bill, backed by his brother Mark’s son Ryan McKinnon, 24, who would be due up to £10million, says it should be ruled invalid and the earlier will should be ruled Kevin’s final will.
The hearing continues.
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