Court dismisses a wife’s claim for further financial provision from her husband’s Estate
The Court has recently dismissed a claim brought by the wife of a successful businessman against his estate in the case of Wooldridge v Wooldridge. This will dispute case is an interesting example of a situation where the Court might decide to make no further financial provision for a widow pursuing a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the Act”).
The facts were as follows. Ian Wooldridge died aged 52 in a helicopter accident leaving behind his wife, their son and a son from a previous relationship. Mr Wooldridge left a homemade Will which gave his wife their matrimonial home (valued at £2.1m at the date of death but which had increased to c£4m in 2015) and the benefit of life assurance policies. Mr Wooldridge also had valuable business assets, which he had divided between his two sons.
Mrs Wooldridge challenged the Will by bringing a claim for reasonable financial provision under the Act. As has been covered
by earlier blog posts, the Act allows a Will to be disputed on the basis that it fails to adequately provide financial provision for certain categories of people. Generally speaking, in these cases the Court will focus on the needs and resources of an applicant (as well as other factors under the Act) to decide what level of maintenance award might be reasonable. For surviving spouses, however, the courts are more generous in their approach to maintenance.
In Wooldridge v Wooldridge, the applicant Widow had almost £10.5m worth of assets (a proportion of which could be used to produce an income for her). On top of this, she had significant earning potential. The Court held that she already had enough to satisfy her reasonable financial needs. One factor the courts took into consideration in making their finding was that any increase in provision for Mrs Wooldridge was also likely to have resulted in the business assets having to be sold off, which would not have been fair for Mr Wooldridge’s sons.
If you would like to discuss whether you might be able to make a claim under the 1975 Act, do not hesitate to contact Dino Sikkel by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need advice on challenging a Will and obtaining information about a Will please contact Philip Youdan at email@example.com. For further information about Will disputes and disputes involving trusts and estates please click here to view our Guide to Will Trust and Estate Disputes