Recently, I was asked to appear on Channel 7’s “Sunrise” breakfast show to talk about Bill Gates who had decided not to leave most of his $56B to his three children. Could they challenge the will?
Here is what I wanted to say:
In Australia and most of the rest of the world, there are three ways that such children would be advised to challenge the will:
That your Dad is nuts. This is increasingly popular.
That you are still dependant on your parents. This seems to work at any age, your parents never seem to make adequate provision.
That your Dad’s lawyers messed up the terms of the will. This is an argument that we understandably, try to discourage.
Allegations of frequent loss of car keys, forgetting names and having no idea of where a car is parked are dismissed by most judges as normal behaviour. However, I suspect that trying to convince any judge that someone who gives away as much money as Bill Gates is entirely rational would be an uphill struggle, especially if he tried to maintain that his wife encouraged him to do so. I sometimes feel like a walking financial provision application myself.
Claims against rich people alive or dead have always been fairly common as long as I can remember and like Tiger Woods you never know what is coming out of the rough.
What is adequate provision? Well, $56B would do it but anything less may be the subject of a challenge.
I suspect Mr Gate’s children would prefer the whole inheritance neatly divided three ways as most of us do.
Rather than leave my own children locked in expensive and divisive litigation I have decided to take the advice I normally give to my own clients and spend it before I go. I shall leave a note explaining that it was for their own good.