In a recent blog post, we discussed the importance of taking steps to protect against potential inheritance disputes in the event of marriage or divorce. Too many families are torn apart by inheritance and estate disputes and it’s important to take steps to protect against such issues.
Legal actions like marriage and divorce often complicate matters as spouses, ex-spouses and children may become involved. A recent lawsuit in Australia involving the illegitimate daughter of the late mining billionaire Peter Wright provides another example of a complicated inheritance dispute.
The lawsuit was filed by Wright's third child who is now age 19. During the course of his life the billionaire, who made his fortune in the mining industry, was married and divorced three times and, while married, fathered two children. Wright also fathered a third child with a woman to whom he was never married.
At the time of the 74-year-old's death, Wright's net worth was estimated to be $1.5 billion of which his two oldest daughters received $400 million each. Wright's third and "secret" daughter, however, received far less as she was named the beneficiary of a $3 million trust to which many stipulations applied.
In response, Wright's third daughter filed a lawsuit in which she contested her late father's will and disputed the amount of her inheritance. In late February, a court ruled in the 19 year old's favor, awarding her $25 million. That amount, however, is now being disputed by other members of the Wright family, including the late billionaire’s two other daughters.
This case provides an example of why an inheritance dispute may arise. Today's family compositions are more complex than ever. When heirs disagree about the contents of a will and the amount of an inheritance, it’s wise to seek legal advice and assistance.
Source: Daily Mail, "Sisters at war," Emily Crane, March 22, 2015