Rich Old Lady Dies, Leaves Behind Multi-Million Dollar Fortune to Friendly Neighbor

A judge in Australia ruled this week that Betty Harris's revised will was valid, and she had every right to disinherit her relatives and leave her multi-million-dollar estate to the nice people who live next door.

Prior to her death in 2009, Harris — a childless widow who lived alone in her mansion on Sydney's "millionaire's row" — reportedly became convinced that her "pathetic" nieces and nephews were trying to put her in a nursing home and seize control of her estimated $12.5 million fortune.

"I am determined that my relatives after what they have put me through will not get one cent," Harris said before her will rewritten in 2005 to make next-door neighbors Beatrice and Robert Gray the inheritors of her estate. "The Grays would be surprised, (while) my family are waiting for me to die."

Harris had a special place in her heart for the Grays, a very well-to-do couple themselves who would often help the aging woman with her household chores and even lent her money so she could avoid having to ask the financial manager thrust upon her by her family.

Harris's niece, Coralie Hart, who lives in a "modest house" and was the sole beneficiary of the will until 2005, tried to convince Supreme Court Justice Richard White that her aunt was delusional at the time of the revision.

But despite a doctor's diagnosis that Harris suffered from "moderately severe dementia," Justice White determined that Harris was in her right mind when she signed the will.

"I'm extremely grateful to Betty Harris," said Gray, whose husband has since passed on.

[screengrab via 7News]