16 FEB 2016

Wooldridge v Wooldridge (Case No: 3CL1022132)

Wooldridge v Wooldridge (Case No: 3CL1022132)

(Central London County Court, HHJ Walden-Smith)

Inheritance – Wife’s claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975 – Submission that the family lived an extravagant lifestyle – Whether the will made adequate provision for the wife

The wife’s claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants Act) 1975 was refused.

The husband and wife were married for 11 years and had been in a relationship for 15 years at the time of the husband's death following a helicopter crash. They had one child together, aged 6, and the husband had a son from a previous relationship, aged 22.

The wife brought proceedings under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 claiming that her husband's will failed to make adequate provision for her. She was awarded that matrimonial property, mortgage-free, which was now worth £4m-£4.25m. The will, which was home-made without legal advice being taken, also directed the husband's company to pay her £75,000 pa, but that gift failed as it was not open to the husband to direct the company to make such a provision. Both sons inherited shares in the husband's construction business.

The family had also received compensation under the Fatal Accidentals (Northern Ireland) Order 1977. The wife received £.1985m, the youngest child received £200,000, and the older son received £315,000. During those proceedings a report was prepared on the family's financial dependency on the husband and found that annual income was just under £100,000 and actual expenditure was just about that. Those findings undermined the wife's claim that their annual expenditure was over £370,000 pa.

The wife had assets of her own, following her successful career in advertising, amounting to £10.5m, including properties which were capable of generating income.

During the marriage the wife submitted that they lived an extravagant lifestyle and she claimed that the husband would have wished for her to be left with more than just the property. However, the type of lifestyle she referred to was not supported by the financial evidence.

Her claims regarding the level of expenditure were inflated and in reality the highest level at which her needs could be assessed was £240,000 pa. The younger child's award from the fatal accident claim and rent in respect of a property the husband had left him should be used for his living expenses now and not, as the wife had done, placed into investments for his future.

The wife had been a successful businesswoman whose abilities could still generate a good income, despite her being out of the advertising industry for 7 years. She was certainly not incapable of obtaining suitable and lucrative employment.

She had failed to demonstrate that the will did not provide her with sufficient financial provision to meet her needs.Furthermore, the older son was dependent on the business partnership and its assets for his income and accommodation. If the wife was awarded a further provision it would likely involve partnership assets being sols which would have a profoundly negative effect on the older son and his family, and also on the younger son's interest in the business.Furthermore, the total value of the estate was not of a size to support the wife's claim.

Case No: 3CL1022132

In the County Court at Central London

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF IAN JAMES WOOLDRIDGE (DECEASED)
AND IN THE MATTER OF THE INHERITANCE (PROVISION FOR FAMILY AND DEPENDANTS) ACT 1975


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BEFORE:


Her Honour Judge Karen Walden-Smith

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BETWEEN:

THANDI STRATFORD WOOLDRIDGE
Claimant

and

(1) GRAHAM JOHN WOOLDRIDGE
(2) JULIE ANN ELIZABETH WOOLDRIDGE
(3) CHARLOTTE CECILIA WOOLDRIDGE
(4) CHARLES JAMES WOOLDRIDGE
(5) RHETT ARTEMAS WOOLDRIDGE (A CHILD, BY HIS LITIGATION FRIEND SUZANNE MARRIOTT)
Defendants

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Wooldridge v Wooldridge (Case No 3CL1022132)

JUDGMENT

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