The story of Olivia Mead, the estranged daughter of West Australian billionaire Michael Wright who successfully challenged her father’s estate and went from working in a supermarket to becoming a millionaire seems farfetched. However her motivation for doing so, is characteristic of many people who seek to do the same, by way of estate litigation.
Estate disputes in most cases derive from:
• challenges to the validity of a Will;
• challenges to the capacity of the Will maker to make a valid Will;
• challenges where a beneficiary has been involved in preparing the Will;
• challenges in relation to the interpretation of the provisions of a particular Will; and
• claims by children, spouses and in some cases grandchildren claiming a share of the estate in circumstances where they have either been left out of a Will or believe that they have been inadequately provided for.
The latter category, commonly referred to as family provisions claim, was exercised by Olivia Mead in her estate dispute.
Mr Wright died in 2012 with an estimated wealth of about $1 billion. He fathered three children. It was alleged in the West Australian Supreme Court earlier this year, however, that there were in fact other children by Mr Wright, estranged by reasons of their career decisions.
In the case of Olivia Mead, she was allegedly ostracised by her father because she didn’t obtain a degree in law, accountancy or business. Olivia argued that the $3 million trust set up for her by her late father was inadequate.
The aspect of the case which garnered significant media attention was Olivia’s long list of demands ranging from a $2.5 million home to a Mexican walking fish.
Ultimately, West Australian Supreme Court Master Craig Sanderson ruled that Olivia Mead, should be handed $25 million from the estate. The executor of the estate, David Lemon and Wright’s two daughters, Alexandra Burt and Leonie Baldock are waiting for their appeal to be determined.
These are the reasons for many people who seek equity by way of a family provision claim over an estate or part thereof.
An interview with Olivia Mead will be aired on Sunday Night this weekend