Widows should have at least some control over the money they inherit, a panel of appeal judges declared after overturning a High Court decision.
The widow of the “genius” tycoon who made £30million after he “brought the black bin liner to Britain” has won a landmark victory in a fight over control of his fortune yesterday.
Michael Cowan, who died in April 2016 from a brain tumour, aged 78, built his wealth from humble beginnings. Applying a “Midas touch” for business, he grew his phenomenally successful plastics company, Hanmere Polythene Ltd, until he was a multimillionaire.
He married his lover of 25 years, Mary Jane Cowan, in February 2016, but died two months later.
He left her with access to hundreds of thousands of pounds in ready cash and also used his will to set up a structure of “generous” trust funds, “designed to meet her every reasonable need for the rest of her life”.
However, his 77-year-old widow was not happy with the arrangement, which left her with no assets in her own name and no control over her late husband’s millions.
Now the Court of Appeal, on which Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Baker also sat, has granted her permission to make a claim against his estate, on the basis that his will did not make “reasonable provision” for her needs.