Decade-long family feud ends in bitter property lawsuit

By Hai Duyen   June 2, 2016 | 07:31 pm GMT+7
A 72 year old Vietnamese-French woman had planned a happy retirement with her husband, but her careful planning turned into a nightmare and a prolonged property dispute with her niece in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ten years ago, the woman (whose name has been kept from the public) sent her niece in Vietnam $95,000 from France to buy a house in Ho Chi Minh City so that she and her husband could retire there. She also furnished the entire house, but the ownership documents were in her niece's name.

A year later, her husband suddenly passed away, so she returned to Vietnam to live for a while and set up an altar dedicated to him following traditional Vietnamese custom.

In 2010, the aunt started to get the impression that her niece wanted to keep the house so asked for the ownership papers to be transferred to her. The niece refused and cut off all contact with her.

Two years later, the aunt returned to Vietnam to visit the house but the niece had changed the locks.

After much persuasion, the niece opened the door and it turned out that the altar had been removed. The aunt realized her suspicions had been correct, and when the niece refused to hand over the keys, the matter was taken to court.

In an attempt to mend her broken relationship with the niece, the aunt promised to give her $27,000 if she voluntarily gave back the house.

Again, the niece refused and said she would see her aunt in court.

In 2015, at the HCM City People’s Supreme Court, the niece admitted that she had received $95,000 from the aunt, saying that the aunt gave her the money to buy a house for herself in an act of generosity.

However, the niece could not prove the money had been a gift, and was instructed to return the house to her aunt.

Pushing her luck even further, the niece asked for the $27,000 her aunt had promised her once she got the house back.

But she got her comeuppance: this time it was the aunt's turn to refuse by saying she had only offered the money if the niece “voluntarily” gave back the house. Now the niece has nothing: no house and no money.

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