It is reported that the family of Ian Wooldridge (sadly killed in a helicopter accident) have gone to Court to argue over their inheritance.
Mrs Wooldridge says she needs more from the estate despite inheriting his 140-acre Surrey estate and £1.6m in other assets
He left his widow, Thandi, and two sons, Charlie, now 27, and Rhett, now 11.
His home-made will left a gross fortune of about £10 million – including the family’s home, Glanfield Manor, in Windlesham, Surrey, which he bequeathed to his widow, now 50.
The house is now worth around £4.25 million and Mrs Wooldridge also inherited other assets worth £1.6 million.
She is now battling for £3.75 million more from her husband’s estate – saying she needs £372,000-a-year to cover her expenses and maintain the lifestyle to which she is accustomed. The question is whether Mr Wooldridge’s will made reasonable provision for his family and whether this should include keeping his widow in the manner to which she is accustomed.
She is facing opposition from her stepson, Charlie, who told the court he fell into gambling when grieving over his father’s death.
Mrs Wooldridge’s barrister accepted that she and her husband had lived “an extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle, vastly in excess of what most people could ever aspire to”.
Denying that Mrs Wooldridge’s demands are excessive, her barrister said she had been instrumental in her husband’s business success.
She had “sacrificed” her own high-flying career in the outdoor advertising business so she could give her family her full support, he added.
Mrs Wooldridge was challenged about her planned annual expenditure of £65,000 on family holidays, and £58,000 on transport costs.
She explained that she and Rhett take their holidays in Barbados, while she also has to find the money to keep a Bentley and a Range Rover on the road.
The Manor’s value had spiralled upwards since her husband’s death and that had “distorted” the widow’s financial position on paper.
It was established that Charlie Wooldridge has a steady income, having “stepped into his father’s shoes” with an executive position in the Wooldridge Group of companies and confessed to having “done a lot of gambling over the past four years.”
“I spent stupid money and that’s the way I dealt with it, but I don’t do it any more.”
Judge Walden-Smith has now reserved her decision in the case and will give her ruling at a later date.
Whatever the decision the parties are likely to be able to afford the legal costs, but what is the human cost in terms of damaged relationships and reputation. The parties might have been better off mediating.