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contesting a will

The secret unknown daughter of Billionaire mining heir Michael Wright has been revealed in the Western Australian Supreme Court this week as 19 year old university student Olivia Mead. Mr Wright, who was the son of iron ore magnate Peter Wright who owned the Voyager Estate winery died in 2012 with an estimated family fortune of $2.7 billion, a fortune that was largely derived from the mining royalties his father, Peter, negotiated with Rio Tinto in the 1960s. Peter was also a business partner of the late Lang Hancock.

Mr Wright, who was married four times, was generally believed to have fathered three children, two of whom are closely involved in running the family’s business empire in Western Australia.

Ms Mead has launched a claim against her late father’s Will suing the Estate and both Mr Wrights two other daughters Leonie Baldock and Alexander Burt and the Voyager business, claiming she has been left “without adequate provision” in his will.

Some of what Ms Mead is claiming is extraordinary to say the least:

• $2.5 million house to be refurbished twice at a cost of $500,000
• $250,000 diamond studded bass guitar
• $1.2 million crystal-encrusted grand piano
• Five pairs of $5000 shoes each year for life
• Twenty pairs of $300 shoes each year for life
• $40,000 for holidays each year for life
• Two cars – including an Audi A4 and a Toyota Tarago, for when she has a family
• $10,000 a year for handbags and fashion accessories for life
• $100,000 wedding
• $300 a week for clothing for life
• $800 a week for food and alcohol for life
• $300 a week for restaurant bills for life
• $150 a week for fine wine for life
• Thousands of dollars a year for life to house a dog, a ferret, a rabbit and an axolotl fish.

The Will provided her with a $3 million trust fund when she turns 30, as well as an allowance for the intervening years.

Mr Wright’s other two daughters have accused Ms Mead of “thinking of every possible thing she might possibly want and putting it down in order to inflate the claim against the Estate given its size”. They argued that, “There is no lifestyle you are considering that you would need five pairs of $5000 shoes every year for the rest of your life”.

Ms Mead said in the WA Supreme Court she did not have a close relationship with her father “overall”, but that she visited him at least once a week in 2012 prior to his death in April. She said her father told her he wanted to leave property for her, but property was not bequeathed to her in the will.

The trial is expected to last a week at which time the Judge will rule on her extraordinary claim.

In Australia it is becoming more and more common to see blended families with this type of family dynamic. Blended families have increased in number by 50% in just the last decade. As you can see in this case, things are not always as sweet as the family in “the Brady Bunch”!

From an estate planning point of view blended families can sometimes be complex, involving many competing interests from spouses, children from current relationships, children from prior relationships, step children and ex-spouses. The parties are sometimes at a loss as to how to balance the needs of their new spouse and children with their existing children. This is where an experienced Estate Planning Lawyer from Attwood Marshall Lawyers can guide and advise you as to the best available options to suit your circumstances.

If you would like further information, this podcast interview with Legal Practice Director, Jeff Garrett is worth a listen.

If you have any queries either as a claimant or as a personal representative or executor of an estate, please take advantage of our free initial consultation.  Please ring our department manager Donna Tolley on direct line 07 5506 8241, email dtolley@attwoodmarshall.com.au or freecall 1800 621 071.

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Melissa Tucker

Melissa Tucker

  • Senior Associate
  • Wills and Estates
  • Direct line: (07) 5553 5803
  • Mobile: 0411 046 805