Widow wants half husband's fortune - even though she was divorcing him

Mari Vindis

A widow who was in the process of divorcing her husband when he died unexpectedly is fighting for half his £12 million fortune - rather than the £36,000 he left her in his will.

Mari Vindis had been separated from husband Nigel Vindis, the 58-year-old co-owner of a chain of car dealerships, for two years when he died three years ago. She filed divorce papers two months before his death, and was expecting a £6 million payout.

But Mr Vindis had rewritten his will and signed a letter of intention leaving the vast majority of his wealth to the couple's two children Gabriella, 26, and Alexander, 28.

He left his estranged wife just £36,000.

Ms Vindis is now asking the High Court to set the will aside and make 'reasonable provision' for her in the same way as a divorce court would have done.

If she succeeds, it will, says the Daily Mail, be the biggest ever such award by an English judge.

Just to add to the confusion, Mr Vindis's sisters - Sonjia Stubbings, 73, and Theresa Orrock, 58 - are also hoping for a slice of the estate.

While Mr Vindis's will stated that Ms Vindis should have assets worth £1 million, this was to include property she already owned - leaving her with just £36,000 of Mr Vindis's wealth.

She now lives in Cornwall and works as a hypnotherapist, earning just £11,000 a year.

It's unusual for a will to be overturned, but it does happen. Last year, a woman whose late mother left her whole estate to animal charities was awarded £164,000 by the Court of Appeal.

The court decided that as Heather Ilott was on benefits and had no pension, and that her mother Melita Jackson had had no relationship with the charities while alive, the will was 'unreasonable'.

Only certain people can contest a will - a spouse, a former spouse who hasn't remarried, children or step-children, a partner who lived with the deceased for more than two years or another dependant.

And it's not a step to be taken lightly. In the case of Mr and Ms Vindis, the couple's daughters are said to be broadly supportive of her claim, although they think she's asking too much. More usually, though, disputes of this sort can cause family rifts that may never heal.

Celebs who have suffered financially after divorce
See Gallery
Widow wants half husband's fortune - even though she was divorcing him
In 2009, after a bitter divorce battle, Cleese was forced to give his third wife £8 million in cash and assets - including a £2 million Holland Park house and half a beach house in Santa Barbara. He must also pay significant alimony. He didn't run up debts during the process, but has sold a number of assets - including paintings and props, and has been on a world tour with his one man show: 'How to Finance your Divorce'.
He said in September last year that he was 'downsizing' his life, selling his ranch in Napa and returning to TV where the pay is steadier. According to Fox News he added: "Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it 'all the money', but they changed it to 'alimony'.
The Gossip Girl actress filed for bankruptcy this year. One major contributing factor was an enormous legal bill from her divorce and custody battle with her ex-husband. Her German husband had been deported, and the divorce lawyer ruled that the couple should spend equal time with the children. Because her husband could not enter the US, he ruled that they should live with their father and Rutherford should travel to visit them. She told E!News she had "spent every penny. Every penny from Gossip Girl, my pension, my stocks has been spent fighting for my children."
One of the oddest celebrity divorce settlements was in the late 1970s when Marvin Gaye was ordered to record a new album and pay the royalties to his ex-wife. The album is called Here My Dear and includes songs such as "You can leave, but it's going to cost you'. The cost of the divorce was one of a number of factors that drove him to bankruptcy in 1979.
The Sopranos actress (who played Dr Jennifer Melfi) filed for bankruptcy in 1999. She had spent five years fighting a custody battle with her ex, Harvey Keitel, and despite getting custody of her daughter, she told the New York Times she was left $2 million in debt to the lawyers in her bankruptcy and custody cases.

Read Full Story