NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - An 80-year-old man left a handwritten will leaving his apartment and millions of dollars to the workers in his apartment building. But the man's nephew says the will isn't valid.
"We really took care of this man—I was like the son her never had," doorman Eddie Choti said. "That's why he left the apartment to me."
Choti works at an apartment building on East 56 Street in Sutton Place. He said Stephen Evans, a single man without children, died in September and left the apartment to him and $3 million to other building workers, according to a handwritten will. Choti said he knew Evans for 28 years.
"No one ever knew he had this money. The bottom line is we did it, we care for everybody in this building like that," Choti said. "He was a gentleman and he realized and acknowledged how much we took care and cared for him that he showed his appreciation and rewarded us."
But the man's nephew, his only living relative, and a judge say the will is not valid under New York State law. It wasn't signed in front of two witnesses and then signed by the witnesses themselves.
The lawyer for the building workers, Bernard Dworkin, lives in the same apartment building.
"This man was a recluse—he didn't live like someone who had any money. His hair was uncut, he seemed like he didn't bathe, he was very much to himself," Dworkin said. "But he befriended the doorman, particularly, and the staff."
So the judge has given the workers until July to find a valid will in the apartment or a safe deposit box. If they don't, they are out of luck and the apartment and money go to the nephew.
Jules Haas, an estate planning attorney not connected to the case, told Fox 5 that handwritten wills are never a good idea.
"They should do a will with a lawyer, so this way it's going to be done correctly," Haas said. "They should not necessarily do it [themselves] on a simple piece of paper."