How much money is enough? Limits to claims for reasonable financial provision of inheritance

Wills

Following the death of her husband, Thandi Wooldridge sought to claim millions of pounds from her husband’s estate after he died in a helicopter crash.

Mr Wooldridge left his property worth £4.25 million, and assets of up to £1.6 million to his wife but she felt this wasn’t enough. Despite already having assets of up to £10 million in her own name, Thandi went to court to demand a further 3.75 million from her late husband’s estate.

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, certain family members may be entitled to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from their relatives Will if they:

  • Have not inherited as a result of intestacy (where there is no Will);
  • Have been left out of a Will entirely; or
  • Have not been left as much as they need

If one of the above applies, the courts have the power to vary the distribution of the deceased’s Will. By virtue of section 3 of the IPFDA 1975 the courts will take several factors into account including:

  • The financial resources and needs of the applicant
  • The financial resources and needs of the beneficiaries
  • The size and nature of the estate of the deceased

Thandi argued she needed £372,000 a year to maintain her lifestyle of long-haul holidays with luxurious travel and accommodation to which she is accustomed. £178,000 of the £372,000 was claimed to be needed for Thandi’s social events, clothing and jewellery.

Charlie, Thandi’s step son contested the claim stating that her needs were extravagant. He worried her claim would impact the family business he and his brother inherited.

Arguments were put forward by Thandi’s Barrister claiming that the couple had lived “an extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle, vastly in excess of what most people could ever aspire to”.

However the case was dismissed. Judge Karen Walden-Smith stated that ‘Thandi has not established, in my judgment, that the Will fails to provide her with sufficient financial provision to meet her needs.’

This case illustrates that although you may be entitled under the IPFDA 1975 to make a claim, each case is considered in light of the circumstances, and due to Thandi’s existing wealth, her claim was not found to be proportionate to her needs.

If you seek advice on making an Inheritance Act Claim then please feel free to contact us.

All information is correct on the date of posting.