The multi-million dollar estate of prominent Australian author Colleen McCullough has been granted to her widower Ric Robinson after years of fierce court battles.
McCullough’s left two wills, one that bequeathed her estate to US university and another that left her wealth to Robinson. Confusion over which will contained McCullough’s true intentions lead Robinson and the author’s close friend Selwa Anthony – who is also the executor of her estate – into a fiery court battle, with each arguing over the rights to the estate.
While the judge ultimately decided to rule in Robinson’s favour, lawyer Piria Coleman, who drafted the will that left the estate to the University of Oklahoma and was a witness in the court proceedings, told Stars at 60 the facts are completely wrong and there was in fact only one will.
“My clear evidence was that I only drafted one will in which Colleen McCullough left her estate to the University of Oklahoma Foundation. There was no will leaving her estate to her husband,” she maintained.
However, Justice Nigel Rein said on Friday a document signed by McCullough in October 2014 overwrote the previous version and left the entire estate to Robinson.
Throughout the trial Nine News reported McCullough had kicked Robinson out of their home over an alleged affair, but invited him back two weeks later, making the decision on the will all the more difficult.
Robinson was married to McCullough for 30 years. The author did not have any children or other living relatives.
Best known for her internationally acclaimed novels, McCullough died on Norfolk Island in January 2015 at the age of 77.
Formerly a neuroscientist, she had shot to fame in 1977 after the publication of her second novel, The Thorn Birds, the story of a doomed romance between a Catholic priest and a woman in the Australian outback.
The author originally took up writing because the pay for female scientists was so low at the time she was working.
Although she suffered a series of health problems throughout her life, including losing her eyesight in her later years, it was a series of small strokes that led to the her ultimate demise.