Los Angeles residents may remember the recent passing of 54-year-old American
artist, Thomas Kinkade, "Painter of Light." The man made his
millions by creating works of romantic realism, and then reproducing them
and licensing the images for other products.
The man met a troubled end, struggling with alcoholism and eventually dying
form a lethal mix of alcohol and Valium. He separated from his wife in
2010 and six months later had a new live-in girlfriend. The ongoing
probate litigation surrounding his
will and estate have flitted in and out of headlines and taken some bizarre twists.
The core of the dispute rests on two handwritten, barely discernable wills
that the late artist's live-in girlfriend claims he wrote before his
passing. She contends that the man was experiencing alcohol withdrawal,
explaining the shaky nature of the penmanship. According to the girlfriend
and her representation, the artist was advised to plan and document his
will this way instead of the tradition
estate planning route.
This method is not advised. Not only can the authenticity of handwritten
wills be called into question, but such a will can result in prolonged
probate litigation, causing a nightmare for beneficiaries, and possibly
meaning an individual's final wishes aren't delivered as they intended.
According to the girlfriend and her representation, the wills indicate
that Kinkade bequeathed his 6,000-square-foot home in Monet Sereno and
$10 million for a museum, to his girlfriend. Representation on behalf
of the estate is fighting to prevent this from happening. The litigation
appears to be far from over. Estate planning conducted with the aid of
experienced legal counsel can avoid such contention and ensure an individual's
wishes are followed upon their passing.
Source: San Jose Mercury News, "Thomas Kinkade's girlfriend to pay $11,000 a month to stay in artist's mansion," Julia Prodis Sulek, Sept. 17, 2012