CA Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Widow and Children Continue to Battle Over Robin Williams' Assets

How can an estate plan meet the needs of a spouse, ex-spouse and children from previous marriages?

Even when an estate is quite large, heirs and beneficiaries may quarrel over small sums of money and ownership of personal effects. These disputes can be especially acrimonious when children are feuding with a stepparent.

In the case of Robins Williams, his survivors have finally managed to divide thousands of the late comedian's possessions, but are still litigating over 300 articles, including watches, photos, awards, boxer shorts, t-shirts and slippers. His children are also disputing the amount of money his widow should receive to maintain the home she inherited. 

A California judge has set a deadline of the end of July for the parties to resolve the differences themselves. The judge had previously suggested that the family work with a mediator.

The legal action pits Williams' third wife, Susan, against his three children by previous marriages. The children received the bulk of his estate, but she received the Tiburon, California home which she had shared with Williams.  In court papers, attorneys for Susan Williams said the contents of the home should be excluded from items going to the children. Williams’ three children accused Williams of trying to alter a trust agreement to deprive them of objects meant for them.

Apart from the dispute over personal items, there is disagreement over how much money Susan Williams should receive. Robin Williams had left instructions that she be given sufficient funds to maintain her home throughout her lifetime. Lawyers for Susan Williams have pointed out that the children and a former wife have received over $100 million, and the amount in question is comparatively minor.

The case is an object lesson in the difficulties of estate planning when children from earlier marriages and more than one spouse are involved. Trusts and estates lawyers often work closely with clients to try to treat all parties fairly and provide for a recent spouse while protecting the interests of others. Despite these efforts, heirs and beneficiaries may be unhappy with the result.

The Irvine, California law offices of Brian Chew can help you navigate this difficult terrain. The firm’s skilled trusts and estates attorneys offer comprehensive expertise, helping residents of Orange County and beyond devise a smart, balanced estate plan.

For a consultation with OC Wills and Trust Attorneys contact the firm today at 949-347-5256 or use the online consultation request form.


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