When renowned Australian author Colleen McCullough died in January 2015, she didn’t just leave behind a complicated marriage and a $2.1 million dollar Estate, she also left behind a whirlwind in the form of her Will.
In a Will dated 12 July 2014 (Oklahoma Will), McCullough left her entire fortune to the University of Oklahoma during a period of separation in her 30-year marriage. This Will made no reference to her husband, Ric Robinson.
Shortly after the Will was finalised, McCullough and Robinson rekindled their marriage and McCullough advised her solicitor that they had reconciled. McCullough then met with her solicitor again and the case becomes even more complicated.
After the meeting, McCullough’s solicitor pulled apart the Oklahoma Will and inserted a new page gifting the Estate to Mr. Robinson. This new page was later taken out by McCullough’s solicitor and the original page returned.
When questioned on this, McCullough’s solicitor explained that she believed that McCullough did not wish to change her Will and the only reason she drafted a page gifting the Estate to Mr. Robinson is because McCullough did not want her husband to know that he would receive nothing under her Will.
Ensuring that a Will is drafted and executed correctly is the best defence to any potential claims that may arise after a person passes away. Careful consideration must always be given to how estates are gifted, who is eligible to make a claim and, most importantly, whether the Will takes these considerations into account.
For more information please contact Krystle Wolthers in our Estate Planning Department on 02 4626 5077.
The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication