Tycoon’s home-made will triggers strife

Posted: 29th February 2016

HouseOne might have thought that a successful businessman worth millions would think it wise to spend a little money on getting his will professionally drafted. His decision to do the job himself had catastrophic consequences for his family, who ended up battling it out over his estate in the High Court.

Ian Wooldridge’s estate, not including his £4.25 million family home, had been valued at about £6.8 million. After he died in a helicopter crash in 2010 his widow stood to inherit the property and about £1.6 million in other assets under his home-made will. However, after debts and other liabilities, she argued that she had been left with liquid capital of less than £700,000.

That, she argued, was insufficient to enable her to maintain the lifestyle that she had enjoyed with her husband when he was alive. She argued that he had not made reasonable provision for her in his will on the basis that she required sufficient capital to provide her with an annual income of £372,000. She asked the Court to award her an additional £3.75 million from the estate.

In dismissing her claim, the Court noted that she had been awarded almost £2 million in compensation following her husband’s death. She had been a successful businesswoman in her own right and would have significant earning potential if she returned to work. Her needs were not as extensive as she claimed and she needed an income of, at most, £240,000 a year. Noting that her total assets, including her home, were worth about £10 million, the Court found that reasonable provision had been made for her.

We regularly deal with such claims and can help - see Contested wills and estates - but prevention is usually better than cure. See Why make a will? and details of our Wills and estate planning services through the links and call us now on 01460 200450.