Previously, we have reported on the complications faced by Thomas Kinkade's estate in the wake of the 54-year-old painter's unexpected April 6 death. At one time, it seems his wife (from whom he was estranged but not yet divorce) and his girlfriend might be able to sort out their differences, but now it seems that negotiations have failed because the two are reportedly going to probate court.
Kinkade, who lived in the Bay Area, became famous for his sentimental paintings of things like country cottages and lighthouse. Those artworks earned him a vast fortune, and how that fortune is to be split up is now in dispute.
His wife claims that Kinkade's will clearly spells out what he wanted for his estate, but his girlfriend has produced some handwritten notes that contradict portions of that will. Whether those notes are fake or whether they are legitimate amendments to his will (in which case they'd be called codicils) is a big area of dispute.
Whether we will ever know the outcome of this legal dispute is in question, because Kinkade's wife has asked the probate court that the proceedings be carried out in private. A ruling on that request is pending.
The bottom line here is that wills must be treated as what they are -- very formal, very important documents. You may think that making a small change yourself won't matter, but this story shows otherwise. Having an estate planning attorney work with you on matters that involve wills, trusts and other estate planning documents is advisable.
Source: CBS News, "Thomas Kinkade's wife, girlfriend head to court,"
July 2, 2012
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