Court blocks attorney Gaumattie Singh from selling ex-client’s property
- as family challenges will naming her sole beneficiary
Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang has granted an injunction to block attorney Gaumattie Singh from selling a former client’s property, after the man’s family challenged the authenticity of a will she produced that named her as his sole beneficiary.
The family of Lindener Aeri Aeman Aesop, who died in August last year, moved to the High Court against Singh, who is being accused of taking possession of and trying to sell his Lot 468 Canvas City, Wismar, Linden property based on a fraudulent will that purported to bequeath the property to her.
The interim injunction, which was granted by Justice Chang yesterday, restrains Singh or anyone connected to her from vesting title, selling, mortgaging, or otherwise disposing of, passing and/or accepting transport of Aesop’s Linden property and from intermeddling with the assets of his estate as well as costs.
It was based on an application filed on behalf of family members of Aesop, who charge that Singh had already failed to hand over the proceeds from the sale of an Industry, East Coast Deme-rara property that belonged to him. The family said it feared that unless restrained by the court, Singh will sell the property to another person or persons.
The application was filed by attorney Gem Sanford-Johnson on Monday on behalf of Aesop’s daughter and only child, Coralie Adams, also called Caralie Adams and Doris Adams. She is listed as the plaintiff in the court documents in her capacity as executrix in a will that Aesop had made in 1991. However, because Adams is overseas, her son, Samuel Tyson Anthony Adams, is acting on her behalf in the court action by virtue of a power of attorney.
Samuel Adams, according to the affidavit, said that his mother was the sole executrix named in Aesop’s Last Will and Testament, which was deposited in November 1991 in the Probate Section of the Supreme Court Registry. It is the family’s contention that Samuel Adams and his two brothers are named as beneficiaries in the 1991 will, according to the documents seen by Stabroek News.
The affidavit said that after Aesop’s death on August 2, 2011, Coralie Adams permitted one of his elderly friends, who was destitute at the time, to reside in his house at 468 Canvas City, Wismar, and Linden. It is claimed that Singh, however, later evicted that person on the grounds that the property was hers.
Singh was known to Aesop’s relatives to be an attorney that he had retained in her professional capacity between 2000 and 2001 to file and conduct possession proceedings against a tenant who was occupying his land at Parcel 19 Industry, East Coast Demerara.
As a result of Singh’s eviction of Aesop’s friend, Samuel Adams travelled to Guyana in early August of this year on the instructions of his mother, who was unable to leave her employment in France. His visit here was to make arrangements to probate the Will and to establish on what authority Singh had made the eviction.
He said he met Singh at her Chambers she started to cry while alleging that relatives in Linden ill-treated Aesop before he died. The attorney, according to him, changed her story after he made contact with the shocked relatives in her presence.
In relation to the eviction of Aesop’s friend, Singh, according to Adams, told him that following his death she visited his home and found a Will, in which she was named executrix and which stated that the property was left to her. She also revealed that she had already probated the Will and had entered into an agreement and collected a deposit for the sale for the property, for which she had paid over a million dollars to liquidate an existing mortgage on the premises.
But Adams, who said the circumstances under which she found the will were suspicious, noted that Aesop’s relatives had visited the home earlier looking for his documents but a Will was not among what they had found. Singh, he added, was unable to produce the Will, which she claimed she had been unaware of until the day she found it.
He, however, told Singh that Aesop had left a “true” Will that was deposited in the Probate Registry for safe keeping. In it, he said, his mother was named executrix and he was one of the three beneficiaries. As a result of his disclosures, he said Singh “appeared startled and told me that she doesn’t really want the property as she would not go to Linden to live and she had no problem giving it back to us.”
Adams subsequently obtained a copy of the Probate and a copy of the Will and Assets granted to Singh, which raised further suspicion. He claimed that the signature affixed to the January 10, 2006 “pretended will” was not that of Aesop. He added that the paper on which all the documents were filed looked fairly new, while documents found in Aesop’s home prior to and subsequent to 2006 and up to 2011 were discoloured and in poor condition. In addition, he noted that the Oath of Executrix sworn to by Singh included the false claim that Aesop “had no children born out of wedlock.”
As a result, Adams contended that the Will “was manufactured” subsequent to Aesop’s death, backdated and that a forged signature was affixed.
Meanwhile, Adams also swore that based on enquiries at the Land Registry, he was informed that Aesop’s land at Industry, East Coast Demerara was sold by Singh in 2004 based on a Power of Attorney and from all indications she had collected all of the purchase money from the purchasers.
The man further claimed that he was informed that Singh, instead of transferring the title to the purchasers, resold the same land in 2009 to the Association of the New Testament Church of God. However, upon the hearing of an action filed by the first purchasers, the Court had ordered Singh to complete the transfer of the said property and to refund the church their purchase money. Singh has since complied with that order.
Like with the Will produced by Singh, Adams said, the Power Attorney does not appear to bear Aesop’s signature and further that it appeared to be only for use in the United States. He further added that Aesop, up to the end of 2010, had been unaware of the sale of the property.
In the circumstances, Adams’s attorney filed a writ in the Registry asking for a declaration that the grant of Probate granted on November 29, 2011 by the High Court be deemed null, void and of no effect. He also sought a number of orders, including one revoking, annulling, setting aside and making null and void the said grant of Probate; an order that Singh no longer be entitled to administer the estate of Aesop; and an order that Singh prove the validity of the will in solemn form.
A Praecipe for Citation has also been filed to bring in the grant of Probate. The documents noted that from all indications the Will is a “highly suspect document,” which was obtained under highly suspicious circumstances and that a failure to recall, revoke and make null and void the said probate will allow Singh to vest title of the property in herself and complete the sale and would therefore deprive the estate of its remaining assets.