Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Australian author Colleen McCullough passed away in 2015 and was best known for her 1977 novel The Thorn Birds. On Friday, the Supreme Court of New South Wales in Australia ruled that the late author had intended to leave her multi-million dollar estate to her husband, Ric Robinson, rather than a United States university, the University of Oklahoma.
The litigation was center around two competing wills. McCullough's friend and will executor, Selwa Anthony, had argued that the author's true intentions were contained in a will signed in July 2014, leaving the entire estate to the university whose board the author had once been a member. Her husband contested that will, instead bringing a will signed October 2014 in which McCullough's estate was left to him in its entirety.
During the trial in May, the court heard that McCullough had removed her husband from the first will after discovering he had a mistress. The couple briefly separated in June 2014. Mr. Robinson claimed there was no coercion and that his wife of more than 30 years had "approved of the affair."
See Colleen McCullough: The Thorn Birds Author 'Not Coerced' Over Will, BBC, July 20, 2018.
Special thanks to Stephen Sanders (Austin, Texas Estate Planning and Probate Attorney) for bringing this article to my attention.