Celebrity lawyer beats family to inheritance

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Photo: Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix
12:46 CEST+02:00
High-profile lawyer Mona Høiness will get to keep a 100-million kroner ($17 million) inheritance after winning her case against the family of a wealthy couple she befriended in the 1980s.

Speaking after the verdict, Høiness said the thought of losing the case had never occurred to her, with a wealth of documentation highlighting the strength of her relationship with the deceased couple, Per and Synnøve Anker Urdahl.

Eight of the couple’s nieces and nephews had insisted that a will making Høiness the sole beneficiary of the pair's fortune should be deemed null and void.

“If these people – who Synnøve never liked – had won, it certainly wouldn’t have been her final wish,”  she told news agency NTB.

Mette Yvonne Larsen, Høiness' lawyer, said her client’s determination to win the case had not been motivated by money.

“Her finances were already in good order beforehand, but she was accused of being a robber of the elderly who had ripped off an old woman,” said Larsen, adding:

“They’d had a close relationship for 15 to 20 years, and it was quite natural and reasonable for her to inherit.”

The family members contesting the will said Synnøve Anker Urdahl had suffered from dementia when, in 2007, she signed away her money to the lawyer and former television show host.

Per Urdahl died in 2002, while his widow lived until 2011, spending her final years in a nursing home after a fall.

According to Høiness, Per Urdahl made clear to her his intentions in 1986 when he allegedly told her: “You shall inherit everything”.

In February 2007, Synnøve Anker Urdahl signed the controversial will bequeathing 100 million kroner, as well as a number of properties, to the now 54-year-old lawyer.

In its ruling on Monday, Oslo district court rejected the family’s claim that Synnøve Anker Urdahl had been senile when she signed away her fortune.

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Mona Høiness has repeatedly emphasized her close relationship with the Urdahl family, especially Synnøve, and said she had long been treated like a daughter by the pair.

“I felt like one of the family for years. For more than 20 years I celebrated Christmas with the Urdahl couple,” she said.

According to Mette Yvonne Larsen, the losing party will have to pay court costs of almost three million kroner.

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