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

Asks for will to be overturned

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.

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