Billionaire is embroiled in trust dispute with children

19 Jun 2012 | Jan Atkinson

Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart has lost her legal battle to keep secret details of a bitter family feud over money.

Rinehart, who has an estimated wealth of £11.5bn, has been locked in a battle with her three oldest children. They are accusing their mother of deceit and want her removed as the head of the family trust, which owns a quarter of her company, Hancock Prospecting, and for one of the three of them to be installed as her replacement.

The trust is estimated to be worth £2.5bn.

The trust dispute goes back to 2011 when, just before the family trust was due to pay out, Rinehart told her children that that they would face huge capital gains tax liability amounting to £67m unless they signed a new deed that would give her long-term control over the trust. She pushed the vesting out date to 2068, by which time her oldest son would be 92.

Rinehart’s three oldest children, John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Welker-Rinehart accuse their mother of deliberately deceiving them by changing the vesting date without their permission. They want her removed as head of the trust on grounds of gross misconduct, allegations she vigorously denies.

Rinehart went to court to have the details of the feud kept out of the public domain, citing safety concerns for herself and her family if details of their wealth was made public.  This action has failed and the full facts will now be made public.

A trust is the formal transfer of assets (e.g. property, shares or money) to a group of people or to a trust company on the basis that the assets are held by the trustees for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries).

Jan Atkinson, head of the private client department at Osbornes solicitors and trust expert comments:

“Trust disputes can arise due to poor management of the trust. Beneficiaries of the trust are acting well within their rights to seek legal help in order to make sure that the trust is operating for their best interests”

If you would like to create a trust or require legal advice on an already operating trust contact Jan Atkinson who will be able to advice you on the best course of action.     

Please visit our Wills and Probate pages for more information on the Wills, Probate and Disputed Estates services that we offer.

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