Lessons Learned from Robin Williams’ Estate Battle

Wills-trusts-and-estates-coveredThere’s barely a person over the age of 40 or so who does not come with a family squabble about, well, things following the death of a well-loved parent, grandparent, or family friend. Even Robin Williams, who planned his estate well, could not avoid a family feud after his passing.

Sadly, it’s true. In just four months after the comedian’s death, litigation has begun between Williams’ three children and his third wife. Even a well-thought plan can be challenged by those you leave behind.

The recent slate.com article, titled “Robin Williams’ Family Is Like Yours says that a good talk with the family is the best way to avoid post-death struggles over your estate after you pass away. Sit down with your loved ones and tell them about your will, and how you’d like to see your belongings divided up. Convey some life values while you’re at it. You can even ask for their input.

After the death of a well-loved parent, family squabbles can erupt over vacation homes that have been in the family for generations—or things with much less value. These battles are often over items that aren’t financially worth an hour of the most inexpensive lawyer’s time!

As for Robin Williams’ possessions, the lawyers for Schneider Williams referred to the items as “knickknacks,” while, in their counter-filing, Williams’ children claim these possessions were “carefully amassed.” They say that their stepmother of less than three years had the possessions quickly appraised, and was motivated by greed.

The original article explains that even worthless possessions can become proxies for personal battles that are, sadly, never resolved. Second and third marriages—like those of Robin Williams—make things more complicated, but any family can have such headaches, too. 

Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and get your plan in order. Then talk to your heirs so they know what to expect and are ready to deal with it.

For additional information about estate planning and wills in Houston, please click here to visit my website.

Reference: slate.com (February 4, 2015) “Robin Williams’ Family Is Like Yours



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