A woman has successfully challenged her deceased father’s will through a family provision claim, with Western Australia’s Supreme Court awarding her $25 million.
WA billionaire Michael Wright, son of iron ore magnate Peter Wright, died in 2012 and left behind a fortune thought to be worth over $1 billion.
His 19-year-old daughter, Olivia Jacqueline Mead, was bequeathed a $3 million trust that could only be accessed when she turned 30. However, her lawyers argued that the trust was structured in such a way that she could potentially receive nothing.
Ms Mead originally requested $20 million in the claim, but subsequently lowered her demands to $12 million. When asked to compile a list of her expenses, she cited a number of extravagant purchases, including a $250,000 guitar encrusted with diamonds.
A $2.5 million house, a grand piano decorated with crystals and $40,000 a year for holidays were also itemised. The upkeep of her pets was estimated to cost $20,000 a year.
Supreme Court decision
In ruling, WA Supreme Court Master Sanderson admitted the daughter’s wish list was “fanciful”, but claimed Ms Mead did not seem like a “gold digger” or “greedy”. Instead, he suggested the young woman had let her imagination run wild when asked what her lifetime needs would be.
The judge decided to award her $25 million, arguing that it is not unreasonable to suggest her father should have provided her with a comfortable inheritance for life considering his massive wealth.
While Mr Sanderson contemplated setting up a trust in order to keep the money safe until Ms Mead was older, he ultimately opted for a lump sum payment.
“Establishing a new trust, while it might be possible, would not seem to be practical,” he explained.
“Who for instance would be the trustee of that trust? The result then is a substantial amount of money paid to a young woman without any restriction.”
The remainder of Mr Wright’s estate was distributed to his two other daughters, meaning they were awarded an additional $10 million each on top of the $400 million they originally received in the will.
Contesting a will in NSW
While there are differences in legislation between WA and NSW, contesting a will is a viable option in both states.
If you feel you have not been adequately provided for in a loved one’s will, contact an experienced law firm that can advise you during the pursuit of an inheritance dispute.
No-win, no-fee legal representation will help you gather evidence, go through the mediation process and, if necessary, support you through a court case.