Celebrity Estate Disputes 2015 – The Estate of Robin Williams

Robin Williams in 2011.

Robin Williams in 2011.

Oscar-winning actor Robin Williams tragically committed suicide on August 11, 2014. His untimely demise left many people questioning what caused him to take his own life. Shortly after he passed away, information surfaced about his struggles with depression and the profound impact it had on his life.

Robin Williams was an immensely successful actor. Many sources have valued the estate he left to his family at over $50 million dollars. Celebrity estates can be substantial and difficult to administer. If an estate is poorly planned or if the parties make mistakes administering and distributing the estate, a bitter legal battle many ensue. The beneficiaries and parties involved likely have vast resources to litigate. Celebrity estate disputes can be very expensive and can take a long time to resolve. The parties can incur significant legal costs.

The estate plan of Robin Williams was allegedly recently updated. Nonetheless, in early 2015 reports began surfacing of an estate dispute among the beneficiaries of Robin Williams’ estate. A claim has apparently been filed by Susan Williams in San Fransisco Court. Susan Williams is the widow of Robin Williams. It is alleged that Robin Williams’ children from his first marriage removed among other items, jewelry, watches, and other memorabilia the from one of the family homes shortly after the actor’s death. This was allegedly done despite there being a will leaving these items to the estate of Robin Williams.

Although these allegations have not been proven in Court, it is easy to see the above scenario playing out in similar circumstances. This is especially true for items of high value that can be easily removed from the estate or the from the deceased person’s home. Items such as jewelry, paintings, memorabilia, or cash may be removed long before estate administration takes place.

A large estate may have many such items which are not properly accounted for at the time of death. The estate may have also acquired a number of these items subsequent to the latest revisions of estate and succession planning documents. The parties may be genuinely uncertain as to who is entitled to receive what.

In addition to ensuring items of value such as jewelry, paintings, and memorabilia are accounted for, the Robin Williams estate dispute confirms that succession documents should be updated frequently. Outdated wills and power of attorney documents can lead to even more ambiguity and disputes among successors.

At this stage it is unclear what the resolution of the Robin Williams estate dispute will be. Celebrity estate disputes can take a long time to resolve. It is an interesting story to follow.

If you are in a similar situation, it is important to consult an estate litigation lawyer. Although a celebrity estate dispute may involve a estate with thousands of dollars of precious items, an estate dispute among people who are not as wealthy can be just as acrimonious.

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