Mining magnate Ken Talbot.
Mining magnate Ken Talbot.

Late billionaire’s widow sues over will

THE widow of late Brisbane mining billionaire Ken Talbot has accused his lawyer of negligence in not acting quickly enough to prepare her husband's new will before his death.

Ken Talbot and wife Amanda.
Ken Talbot and wife Amanda.

Talbot's second wife Amanda claims the new will, which had been drafted by legal counsel, would have been more beneficial to her than his 2002 will, a court was told.

A draft new will was prepared by counsel and sent to Mr Talbot's solicitor Bill Boyd a year before the coal baron's death, but was not finalised before his unexpected death in 2010.

In a legal claim against Mr Boyd's law firm, Boyd Legal, Mrs Talbot has claimed he "negligently failed to perform Mr Talbot's instructions in respect of the new will''.

According to court documents, it caused her to suffer "a loss of opportunity as a disappointed beneficiary''.

She also claims Mr Talbot's 2002 will, which became his final will, was drafted negligently by Mr Boyd's firm, causing her economic loss.

Almost nine years after Mr Talbot's death in a plane crash in the Congo on June 19, 2010, his estate is yet to be distributed and is still bogged down in legal action.

Amanda Talbot has brought Supreme Court negligence actions against Mr Boyd and another law firm.

 

Amanda Talbot pictured in 2006. Picture: Darren England
Amanda Talbot pictured in 2006. Picture: Darren England

 

Mr Boyd brought a strike out application over the entire claim, but on Friday, Justice Soraya Ryan decided only some of Mrs Talbot's pleadings should be struck out and repleaded.

Ken Talbot, who founded Macarthur Coal and invested in new mines around the world, left a large and complex estate, with estimated assets worth $1.1 billion at the time of his death.

Mr Boyd, who was retained by Mr Talbot from 1995 until his death, and became administrator of his estate from June, 2012, executed Mr Talbot's 2002 will. He was retained to prepare a new will in 2007 and in October, 2008, he drafted instructions to counsel about a new will, reflecting Mr Talbot's wishes, Justice Ryan said in a judgment.

"Under those instructions, Mrs Talbot's position as a beneficiary under the proposed new will was more beneficial to her than her position under the 2002 will,'' Justice Ryan said. "Neither the new will nor an interim will was executed before Mr Talbot's unexpected death on 19 June, 2010.''

On December 4, 2008, Mr Talbot told Mr Boyd he wanted to complete the new will, saying: "We should aim to knock it off the table'', the court was told.

But six days later Mr Boyd told him he needed more time and that he was spending time on an interim will.

Justice Ryan said on June 1, 2009, counsel sent Mr Boyd an email with a draft of a new will, the judge said.

The 2002 will instructed that 30 per cent of his estate was to be used for philanthropic purposes, to support a range of charities and non-profit groups. The remaining 70 per cent of his assets was to be placed into a trust for the benefit of his wife and four children.