But Mr Justice Mostyn ruled she cannot go beyond her husband’s will – which provided her with £435,000 in the first year after he died and now a regular monthly payout from the trust funds, amounting to around £240,000 a year (£20,000 a month).Mr Cowan set aside £1million to support his children, stepchildren and grandchildren, but made Mary Jane the ‘principle beneficiary’ of one of the funds for her lifetime.Her barrister, Penelope Reed QC, had argued that the tycoon did not make ‘reasonable provision’ for her from his estate, because she has been left ‘very little by way of assets in her own name’.Giving his ruling, Justice Mostyn said: “The argument of Miss Reed QC is that because Mary Jane does not have outright ownership of the assets and therefore absolute control of them, she is – as she put it – ‘at the mercy of the trustees’, who could cut her adrift with no access to money at all,’ he said.”I have to say that I completely disagree…”I have to make the…assessment as to whether the trustees will honour Michael’s wishes and ensure that every reasonable need of Mary Jane is met until her death.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. The widow of a ‘genius’ black bin liner tycoon has lost a landmark court fight to gain total control of his £16million fortune, after a judge ruled her £20,000 a month income was ‘generous’.Michael Cowan, who died from a brain tumour aged 78 in April 2016, built up his wealth from humble beginnings – making his fortune by introducing the humble black bin-bag into British households as an everyday item – at one point selling 200 million a year.But In his final few months he married his lover of 25 years, Mary Jane Cowan, who became his second wife.Mr Cowan, who was ‘devoted to’ Mary Jane, left her with 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’.But his 77-year-old widow was not happy with the arrangement and this week brought a groundbreaking bid to persuade the High Court to grant her ‘outright control’ of her late husband’s millions.Her case was effectively a bid to establish a right for wives to have direct control over their husbands’ riches after death, the High Court heard. Dismissing the widow’s claim, the judge added that if the trustees took the path of denying her money for her reasonable needs, they would be liable to be sued by her for breach of trust.Mr Cowan grew his successful plastics company, Hanmere Polythene Ltd, until he was a multimillionaire with a country estate in Hertfordshire, a pad in the Caribbean and homes in Santa Barbara, California, and London.His divorce from his first, Jacqueline, in 2001, hit the news when they fought in the Appeal Court over money. Jaqueline had been awarded a £3.1million slice of his then £12million fortune but this was upped to £4.4million.
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