Attention to detail is key when preparing your Will
20th April, 2015
An estate dispute involving the widow and children of the late actor Robin Williams has finally spilled out into the public domain as the deadline set by the Court for the parties to reach an amicable agreement draws near.
Susan Williams, Robin Williams’ wife of three years, filed legal documents last December in which she claimed that his children Zak, Zelda and Cody had removed items from the shared property without her permission. The children in return have claimed that Mrs Williams is attempting to keep property that was meant for them.
The problem lies in the wording of Mr Williams’ Will which states that all ‘jewellery and memorabilia’ are to go to his children, which Susan is claiming excludes his watch collection and Oscar for Good Will Hunting.
The case illustrates the importance of attention to detail when preparing wills and considering the family structure and the issues that are most likely to lead to a dispute. Whilst it can be tempting to focus on the assets with the highest monetary value, it is often items with sentimental value that can cause family rifts if wishes are not clearly stated.
The problem could have been easily avoided by being more specific about which items were to go to whom or by nominating independent trustees to make the final decision as to how the personal belongings were to be divided. Unfortunately as neither of these options were adopted it appears likely that the Court will now have to act as arbiter which could be costly for all parties involved both financially and in terms of the public exposure that such a high profile case inevitably draws.
For further information or advice regarding estate planning or estate dispute resolution please contact James Wallace on 01244 405588 or email [email protected].