In 2019, Abha Anuradha Kumar (Kumar), a registered aged care nurse was barred from working in the profession for 5 years after she was found to have engaged in professional misconduct — receiving over $1,000,000.00 under the will of her 92-year old patient.
Whilst the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) heard the allegations brought forward by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (the Board) and ultimately ruled that Kumar had indeed engaged in the ‘most serious’ category of professional misconduct – they were unable to strike down the Will because they lacked jurisdiction.
In August 2021 the State Trustees brought an action for the revocation of this Will in the Supreme Court – which may see Kumar forced to return the money she received.
The circumstances surrounding the creation of the Will
Prior to 2015, Lionel Cox (Cox), an only child, with no children or other living relatives lived an independent life – he would often be found at the State Library reading, before making the walk back to his home in Fitzroy. Over the years Cox’s health deteriorated to a stage where he ‘received assistance in virtually every aspect of his life’.  Indeed, ‘properly characterised Mr Cox was isolated, vulnerable and dependent’.
It was at this stage that Cox was admitted to the aged care home, Cambridge House in Collingwood (the Home). On the day of his admittance, 3 July 2015, he met with Kumar – where she was informed that he had no family, owned his own home and had not made a Will.
Three days later Kumar had begun researching avenues for Cox to obtain legal advice in preparing a Will. Less than two weeks after this, on 24 July 2015, Kumar purchased a Will-kit from a post office. That same day, Cox executed the Will – naming Kumar as the sole beneficiary and executor.
The Will was executed by two other employees at the Home, and whilst VCAT was not tasked with considering the validity of the Will, it noted that it was ‘concern[ed]’ with the circumstances under which the Will was executed:
- Kumar was present during its signing;
- One of the witnesses expressed distress at being requested to sign it but was encouraged by Kumar to proceed;
- The Will was presented to the witnesses folded in half – with only the portion where the Will was to be signed being visible;
- When one witness observed that Kumar was concealing the remained of the Will, Kumar responded: ‘You don’t need to know what’s written, you are just observing Mr Cox signing the Will, that’s all you’re witnessing’;
- One of the witnesses claimed they didn’t see Cox sign the Will; and
- Whilst the Will was signed by both witnesses on the second page, the witnesses’ signatures were late found replicated on the first page.
On the day of Cox’s passing Kumar instructed another employee to locate Cox’s house keys whilst his body still remained in his room. Kumar eventually obtained probate, sold the house and kept the proceeds of $1,117,000.00 in addition to the other property she had inherited worth $39,277.81.
It was by the efforts of Cox’s neighbours and friends in reporting Kumar that this case was brought before the attention of the Board, the Tribunal and ultimately the Court.
This case is a clear, albeit extreme example of the need for proper precautions and advice when executing a Will. If you are considering engaging in your own estate planning in the New Year, we welcome you to contact Sharelle Staff or another experienced member of our team at Scanlan Carroll Lawyers on (03) 9853 0311. We would be happy to assist you in receiving the advice you need to feel confident that your wishes are truly reflected in your Will.
 Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia v Kumar  VCAT 1099 .
 Ibid .
 Ibid .
 Ibid .