Daughter faces £2m bill after losing battle over father's £100m will

‘Ruthless’ daughter who manipulated her father into leaving her most of his £100m fortune while leaving her brother with NOTHING faces £2m bill after losing court battle and being ordered to take equal £27m share

  • Louise Reeves lost three-year court battle over her father’s £100million fortune
  • Court heard ‘very materialistic’ Louise probably engineered a new version of will
  • Judge awarded three siblings equal £27m share while £10m went to other family
  • Now Louise faces £2m legal bill as judge orders her to pay 70% of brother’s costs

A ‘ruthless and materialistic’ daughter who manipulated her father into leaving her most of his £100million fortune while her brother got almost nothing now faces a £2million legal bill after losing a bitter court battle.

Over the past three years, Louise Reeves has been fighting her brother Bill Reeves in the High Court over how their father Kevin’s fortune should be distributed.

Kevin had previously intended to leave Bill, 47, a share worth about £27million, but his final will in 2014 left him with just a collection of personal possessions worth about £200,000.

Last month, however, High Court judge Mr Justice Michael Green ruled that the will was invalid, since Louise could not prove that her father ‘knew and approved’ of its contents.

He found that ‘very materialistic’ Louise probably ‘engineered’ the will and had not proved that ‘illiterate’ Kevin knew and approved of its contents.

It meant Louise and Bill will instead each get £27million, with the rest split between their half-sister Lisa Murray and other family members.

This week he ordered Louise to pick up most of the siblings’ bill for the bitter legal fight, during which each side accused the others of lying in court. 

Louise Reeves, 35, was left 80% of  father Kevin’s £100million fortune after his death in 2019 

Pictured: the late multimillionaire Kevin Reeves with his daughter Louise Reeves

As well as her own £1million costs, she was ordered to pay 70 per cent of Bill’s legal expenses, which are also likely to run more than £1million, lawyers said.

Although Bill had not specifically alleged fraud, the judgment against her carried ‘the strong implication’ that she had ‘engineered an extraordinary fraud on her father by getting him to execute the 2014 will without knowing its terms or thinking they were something else,’ said Bill’s barrister, Constance McDonnell QC.

During the trial in November, the court heard Rolls Royce-driving property tycoon Kevin Reeves built up a vast personal fortune despite humble beginnings, having been left as an orphan child at a convent and quitting school aged just 12.

He had four children, but his final will left 80 per cent of his millions to his Toni and Guy-trained daughter, Louise, when he died aged 71 in 2019. The rest was to go to Lisa.

His death sparked a ‘bitter feud’ after his second son Bill claimed that Louise had bullied their father to change his will and leave him almost nothing.

He claimed ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ Louise – who he said ‘likes money’ and is drawn to ‘flash things’ – was behind their father’s ‘inexplicable’ decision to almost completely cut him out.

Bill Reeves, pictured outside the High Court in London during proceedings, claimed that his sister Louise had bullied their father Kevin to change his will and leave him almost nothing

Kevin Reeves made a fortune in property despite missing out on most of his formal education

He told the court he enjoyed a great relationship with his father, even offering to donate a lung when he was ill, meaning there was no reason why Kevin should leave him with so little in his last will made in 2014.

Ruling, Mr Justice Michael Green rejected the claim that Louise had bullied her father, but said she had ‘pulled the wool over his eyes’ so he did not know what was in the will.

Kevin Reeves: From orphan to £100m property mogul

Kevin Reeves had a tough start to life – with the court hearing how he was left as an orphan to a convent before leaving school at 12 with limited literacy skills. 

But through his ‘ingenuity and hard work’,  he was able to raise up from these humble beginnings to build a £100million property empire based around Southampton. 

He was described in court as having a ‘tough exterior’, which made him a famously tough negotiator. But he was also a devoted family man, relatives said. 

Mr Reeves made the most of his fortune to enjoy a luxury lifestyle, owning a fleet of cars including a Rolls Royce Phantom and going on holidays to California and Las Vegas.  

‘I believe that Louise is a risk taker and she can be manipulative. She knows what she wants and she knows how to get it,’ he said.

‘I believe that she was prepared to take the risk, because the prize was so great, of being found out by the deceased in relation to the 2014 will and she would have taken the consequences.’

It meant the fortune would be split under the terms of an earlier 2012 will, which gave 10 per cent shares to his estranged son Mark’s two children, Ryan and Ria, with the remaining 80 per cent split equally between Bill, Louise and Lisa.

Arguing that Louise should pay Bill’s costs of the trial, Ms McDonnell argued that she had been ‘calculated’ in her ‘orchestration’ of the will, including assessing risks such as whether her dad would actually be able to read it for himself and sending emails to a solicitor that were ‘deliberately false.’

Quoting from the judge’s findings, she said Louise had been shown to be someone ‘who is prepared to go to considerable lengths in order to get what she wants.

She is capable of being ruthless and manipulative, using her intelligence and willingness to take risks to act deviously for her own personal interests.’

She continued: ‘The claimant’s conduct in bringing and pursuing the proceedings has been manifestly dishonest in that she has propounded a will which she knew to be false.

‘The claimant’s actions in doing so have consumed a very considerable amount of the court’s time and resources, and have caused Bill to incur very substantial legal costs, as well as the strain of this long-running dispute.’

For Louise, Francis Tregear QC argued that she should not pay all of the lawyers’ bills, since Bill had not won on every point alleged at the trial, the judge having found that Louise had not ‘unduly influenced’ her father into making the will.

Kevin Reeves holding a young Louise with Bill as a boy.  Kevin was a brook-no-fools character who had overcome tough beginnings to become an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur

As the judge had found Kevin would not have been able to read the will, it would have been declared valid had it simply been read aloud to him before he put pen to paper, he claimed.

‘Louise Reeves acted perfectly properly, and as she was entitled if not bound to act, by putting forward what she knew was her father’s last testamentary document,’ he said.

‘Notwithstanding the wide-ranging nature of the inquiry forced by the defendants, much of which was irrelevant, and the adverse findings made against the claimant in the judgment, it is essential not to lose sight of the fact that ultimately the 2014 will failed on a very narrow basis.’

After hearing a day of argument, the judge ruled that Louise should pay 70 per cent of Bill’s court costs, estimated at well over £1m and to be assessed on the punishing ‘indemnity’ basis.

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