17 February 2016
Millionaire’s Widow Told She Has Had Enough Money
Thandi Wooldridge has been told by a judge that “she has enough” money and her claim for more has been denied.
Ian Wooldridge died in 2010 when the helicopter he was travelling in crashed into hills. He left a £10 million estate including a £4.25 million manor in Surrey. He had a £40 million construction empire that his sons now run.
Thandi Wooldridge went to court claiming that the manor, the £1.9 million compensation payout, and other assets worth £1.6 million weren’t enough to keep her in the lifestyle she was used to. She claimed that she needed £372,000 a year to cover her expenses which include social engagements, jewellery, long-haul holidays and clothing.
Judge Karen Walden-Smith threw out the claim stating: “Thandi has enough. Thandi has not established, in my judgment, that the will fails to provide her with sufficient financial provision to meet her needs.” The judge also said that handing Mrs Wooldridge an extra £372,000 a year would mean selling parts of the company, which would be ‘significantly adverse’ to the interests of Charlie and his brother Rhett.
Mrs Wooldridge’s barrister claimed that the couple had lived an extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle and this is what she is used to. But the judge ruled in favour of Charlie Wooldridge, her stepson, who had challenged the claim to the estate. After the court case he said that he and Rhett were pleased with the outcome as it will ensure that they retain control over the family business.
Claiming Against an Estate
Contesting a will, as Thandi Wooldridge did, can be a tough job, especially if you’ve already been provided for. But there are some cases where you can claim more from an estate, especially if you’ve been dependent on the deceased in some way.
For example, if you have been promised land or property prior to someone’s death because you had contributed to it in some way, but then you find out it’s not been left to you, you can claim proprietary estoppel.
Defending a Claim Against an Estate
If, like Charlie Wooldridge, you find someone is trying to claim against an estate despite what is written in the will, then you can defend it.
You will need a solicitor’s help to prove that the will has been executed properly and reflects the deceased's true wishes. They can also help show that the deceased had sufficient mental capacity at the time of writing the will, you behaved appropriately and reasonably as executor and you can prove who owns the property that is being challenged.
For more information and legal advice for either claiming against an estate, or defending a claim, please get in touch with the expert wills, trusts, tax and probate team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers.
Call us on freephone 0800 916 9056 or contact us online and we will call you.