2 famous contested wills
Published 03 Nov 2016
Contesting a will is not isolated only to Australia. Around the world, individuals embark on legal action. Some do it for the money, while others are seeking a better reflection of the relationship they had with their loved one.
To help you understand that contesting a will is actually quite a common occurrence, here are two famous examples from around the world.
1. J. Howard Marshall II and Anna Nicole Smith
Oil Tycoon J. Howard Marshall II was not terribly famous before his death in 1995, however, after his passing, a long and drawn out will contest made him more famous than some movie stars.
In 1994, he married former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith, who at the time was 62 years his junior, which drew plenty of tabloid headlines. After his death one year later, his will left his $1.6 billion to his son Pierce Marshall, leaving nothing to Smith.
Despite a jury ruling that Marshall was mentally fit when he made the will, Smith began legal action in an effort to obtain a portion of his estate. But in 2014, almost two decades after she first contested the will, and seven years after Smith’s death, a judge dismissed the claim.
2. Richard Pratt and his mistresses
Closer to home, when Australian cardboard king and former Carlton Football Club President Richard Pratt passed away in 2009, he left clear instructions on how to divide his $5 billion estate. However, former mistress Shari-Lea Hitchcock, who Pratt had a daughter with, began a family provision claim.
In 2015, Hitchcock and her daughter received a multimillion settlement, which although substantial, comes nowhere near the inheritance that Pratt’s other children and wife would get.
In an interesting plot twist, former Penthouse Pet and sex worker Madison Ashton came forward claiming to be a second mistress. Ashton argued that Pratt had promised her a series of entitlements that included a $500,000 a year allowance as well as a $5 million trust for her children.
The court tasked with determining the legitimacy of her claim came to the conclusion that a conversation stating those terms had in fact taken place. However, Ashton’s claim was deemed to be void and as such, she was not entitled to a portion of his estate.
Whatever you reason for making a claim or contesting a will, it is important to have the right level of expertise on your side. Make sure you talk to experienced contesting a will lawyers today.