Lessons from the Robin Williams Estate


Initially experts believed that the dispensation of Robin Williams' estate would go smoothly. However, that has not turned out to be the case. There are lessons to be learned from what went wrong.


Upon the passing of Robin Williams, along with an immediate outpouring of grief, reports that Williams had done everything correctly with his estate plan appeared. That certainly seemed to be the case at the time. Before taking his own life, Williams had an estate plan in place that appeared to take care of his children and distribute his property. However, now his widow and his children are fighting in court over portions of the estate as it seems they disagree about the meaning of certain provisions in Williams' estate plan.

Recently, the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog published a list of lessons in an article titled "Lear
ning From the Estate Problems of Robin Williams

The list includes:

  • Specify who gets each particular item, especially if the items are valuable. Williams grouped many of his valuable possessions together in his estate plan. Which specific items belong to which group is a point of contention.
  • Hold a meeting of all heirs so that everyone knows who gets what beforehand.
  • Have professional witnesses oversee the process so that they can raise appropriate questions about any ambiguities.
  • Include provisions in a will that make it difficult to challenge.

Now, would be a good time to review your estate plan with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure that you have not made any of the same mistakes.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (March 3, 2015) "Learning From the Estate Problems of Robin Williams."

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