An interesting Court case has hit the headlines recently continuing the trend for high profile contested Wills and probate cases causing a media stir.
A widow (Mrs Vindis) of a very wealthy English businessman (Mr Vindis) is challenging his Will, from which she is likely to receive £36,000 (the Will did in fact leave £1m to the widow, but much of that value was tied up in properties that were owned jointly by her, so the next gain will be approximately £36,000).
Mr Vindis' wealth came from the Vindis Group of car dealerships. He died aged 58 with an estate estimated to be worth approximately £12m. Two months before his death, Mrs Vindis issued divorce papers. As the couple were still married at the date of his death, the divorce papers and any financial order that the Courts may have made in the divorce proceedings, have no effect. This means that Mr Vindis' Will takes priority.
The couple had been together for almost 40 years and although the Family Court position is that on divorce the starting point is equality, it is by no means certain that Mrs Vindis will receive anywhere near the £6m she is claiming. Mr Vindis had left the majority of his estate to his two children, aged 26 and 28. The estate is also facing a claim against it from Mr Vindis' sisters.
Mrs Vindis' claim is based on the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975. Often called the Inheritance Act, this is not new law by any stretch of the imagination but allows certain categories of people (spouses and children being two of these) to claim "reasonable financial provision" from a deceased's estate.
The Court proceedings have been adjourned and so it will be a case of watch this space for legal commentators. If the matter does reach full trial and does not settle out of Court, it will be one of the largest estates a Court has had to decide on using the Inheritance Act and we will bring you the result and explain the consequences.
How Oratto can help you
The size of the estate in this matter is extraordinary but whatever the value, more and more Wills are being disputed and estates challenged. If you are a disappointed beneficiary or an executor facing a claim from a disappointed beneficiary, please get in touch with an Oratto member lawyer, Wills and probate specialist today.
Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.