Contesting wills case over multi-million dollar estate tears wealthy Australian family apart

Published 30 Sep 2013

When contesting wills disputes arise, it can lead to serious problems that may cause rifts in families that only worsen as litigation drags on.

Such is the case in the current legal battle that has arisen between the members of the Mandie family, who are related to duty-free retail mogul David Mandie. The Australian recently obtained the affidavits that have been filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria, and each show just how serious the matter has become.

Mr Mandie’s sons Ian and Stephen say they are entitled to a much larger portion of their father’s estate, and this has led the siblings to exchange heated words with their sister. It all started when Mr Mandie and his wife removed their sons from the will, claiming they were disappointed with the boys’ “manner and behaviour”.

One of the affidavits – from will executor Mark Cerche – showed that Mr Mandie and his wife believed their sons would not be responsible with the fortune.

“They have demonstrated to us that they are prepared to use whatever means that are at their disposal to achieve their own short-term financial interests… Furthermore, they have threatened us and our daughter with litigation in circumstances which we regard as most improper, if not criminal,” the affidavit read, according to The Australian.

Contesting wills lawyers help divide the millions

Mr Mandie passed away in 2011, but his estate, which is estimated to be worth around $289 million, has been causing problems since. His son Ian claimed that the right family provision would have been to split the estate equally between all three siblings.

“We are of this view because each of Stephen and I made a very significant contribution to the wealth of the family, a contribution which was not recognised by David in his will,” Ian Mandie stated.

He added that although Mr Mandie’s estate was substantial when he died, much of this money was tied up in trusts that the family could not access. Ian said he believes the trust money could be somewhere in the vicinity of nearly a half a billion dollars, and that his sister is now in control of that trust.

The matter is slated to head to the courtroom in October, where the siblings and their contesting wills lawyers will hash out several family provision details to determine how, exactly, the money will be divided.

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