Residents of Los Angeles probably know the name of Jack Kevorkian less for his artwork and more for his championing of assisted suicide, garnering him the nickname, "Dr. Death." Kevorkian passed away at 83 years of age last year, but a dispute ensued over the rights to some of his paintings, which were estimated to be worth $2 million.
The trouble began when Kevorkian was sentenced to spend time in prison after being convicted criminally in the assisted suicide of one man. Before Kevorkian began to serve his sentence in 1999, he entrusted some 17 of his paintings to the Armenian Library and Museum.
The estate issued a lawsuit against the museum seeking the return of the paintings, which they say were only on loan. The museum countersued saying that they owned the paintings. Presently, the litigation has been settled outside of the courtroom with the museum retaining four of the works. The estate is currently waiting to receive the remaining 13 works.
The estate auctioned off the artwork to benefit Kevorkian's heir, his niece. The executor of Kevorkian's estate says that, "We had opening bids of $100,000 for some (paintings), but when we told interested persons we couldn't guarantee delivery because of the pending litigation, the dibs dropped off."
Regardless of how an individual feels about the works and beliefs of this man's life, this case shows the importance of estate planning. The heir to the estate is lucky that her uncle had the foresight to choose an executor that would work to ensure she was taken care of.
For many, it is important to ensure that their loved ones are taken care of after their passing. For residents of Los Angeles that have not considered planning arrangements for their assets at the time of their passing, they may wish to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to explore options available to them.
Source: The Detroit News, "Deal reached on $2M in Kevorkian artwork," Mike Martindale, Oct. 5, 2012