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Estate: Prove it, court tells sister challenging artist’s will

Famed SA artist Michael Costello had only just been buried when the fight over his R8m estate began. Now – seven months later – the process to start wrapping up his estate can begin after an application to have the will declared invalid was dismissed. Costello’s sister, Kate Maurer, took her fight for a part of the inheritance to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) but had to leave empty-handed when the court dismissed it on 7 January. However, she told Sunday Times that she feels she is entitled to some of the family heirlooms. ‘These people are in the process of selling my brother’s and my belongings and assets. The house is in the process of being sold. I have asked for help. I am left with nothing,’ she said. Maurer had claimed her brother was not in his right mind when he changed his beneficiaries to exclude her in favour of a close corporation consisting of his ex-wife and three best friends just a month before he died. The court was not convinced: ‘Furthermore, if you are claiming … undue influence, the principle in law is … whoever alleges must prove,’ the court papers read. Costello was most famed for his paintings of Arabian horses. He died on 21 July of cancer. Lea Coleman, his former wife, whom he divorced 25 years ago, was at his bedside Costello’s estate includes his farm in Hills and Dales near Lanseria and his art collection as well as his artwork.

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