Comedian Robin Williams took his own life in August 2014, after struggling with depression, anxiety, and symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Now, his heirs are in a battle for control of his estate.
Williams married third wife Susan Schneider in 2011. He was the father of three children: Zachary Pym "Zak" Williams, Zelda Rae Williams, and Cody Alan Williams. Zachary's mother is Williams' first wife Valerie Velardi, while Zelda and Cody are the children of his second wife Marsha Garces.
Despite Williams' high net worth, the dispute relates primarily to personal effects. Williams' trust awarded his three children all memorabilia and awards in the entertainment industry as well as several specific personal items. Schneider says that because Williams wanted her to continue to live at their Tiburon home, he intended only for the children to have the items he kept at another home he owned in Napa.
Blended families are becoming more commonplace in today's society, but that doesn't mean the transition is easy. In many cases, residual tension comes to a boil when a loved one passes away and the estate plan does not clearly spell out his or her wishes.
To avoid a dilemma like the one faced by Williams' heirs, you must be as detailed as possible in your estate plan. For example, many people leave property in a trust for a spouse to use until he or she passes away. At this point, the property is ultimately given to the children. This prevents the common problem of your surviving spouse being able to leave assets solely to his or her children from a previous relationship, thus effectively disinheriting your own children.
Whenever your wishes are open to interpretation, there's a potential for trouble. Arrange to speak to a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you create a will or trust that meets the needs of both your spouse and your children from a previous relationship.
How Can We Help?
Regardless of whether you're part of a blended family, estate plans must always be personalized to fit individual circumstances. Our Pasadena estate planning attorneys can help you create a plan that best addresses your specific needs. Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com to schedule an appointment.