Widow in court with stepson over late husband's homemade will

The widow of construction tycoon, Ian Wooldridge, has taken her stepson to court for "a few million quid more" from the family fortune.

Ian Wooldridge died in a helicopter crash in Northern Ireland aged 52 back in October 2010.

Mr Wooldridge’s homemade will divided up his £10 million gross fortune, including the family’s "dream" Surrey home named Glanfield Manor. His widow Thandi Wooldridge, 50, inherited the £4.25 million property plus other assets worth £1.6 million.

Mrs Wooldridge is now chasing £3.75 million more, claiming she needs £372,000 a year to cover her expenses and maintain her in the lifestyle she has grown accustomed to.

But her stepson Charlie, who now works in his late father’s business, aims to stop her.

Charlie’s lawyer, Penelope Reed, told Judge Karen Walden-Smith that the widow’s demands were far too “extravagant”. Mrs Wooldridge has estimated she needed £178,000 for social events, clothes, jewellery, personal care and general entertainment.

According to reports, Richard Wilson, QC for Mrs Wooldridge, accepted that she and her husband had lived "an extraordinarily luxurious lifestyle, vastly in excess of what most people could ever aspire to."

"That included numerous long-haul holidays, accompanied by the most luxurious travel and accommodation on offer,” he said.

But he denied that her demands were excessive as she had been key to her late husband’s business success.

Mrs Wooldridge told the court that life policies, which were intended to provide “liquid capital”, had been depleted by the need to pay off debts.

Miss Reed said that Mrs Wooldridge had assets of £10 million, including £1.9 million compensation for her husband’s death.

She told the court: “If you look at Charlie’s needs and resources, the most important thing is that his present and future are tied up with the family businesses.

"To destroy these businesses cannot be justified simply to support the sort of extravagant lifestyle she is asking the court to fund.”

Judge Walden-Smith reserved her ruling until a later date.

Today's Wills and Probate