There are many things that can lead to legal battles over a deceased person's estate. One are disputes over how terms in a person's will, trust or other estate planning device should be interpreted. Such a battle has arisen in relation to the estate of the deceased comedian/actor Robin Williams.
The dispute is between Williams' wife and Williams' children.
Among the estate planning devices Williams put in place was a trust. The terms of the trust say that certain memorabilia, jewelry and other items should go to his kids.
Williams' wife and Williams' children are in disagreement as to how these trust terms should be interpreted in regards to some of the personal property in one of the homes Williams' owned. Williams' children say the terms should be interpreted to include this personal property among the items that are supposed to go to them. Williams' wife, on the other hand, says that such an interpretation would lead to a result contrary to what Williams likely would have wanted, and that the terms should instead be interpreted to not include this personal property and that the personal property should instead go to her.
One wonders which side will end up prevailing in this trust interpretation dispute.
What can a person do to lower the chances of an estate plan interpretation dispute arising when they pass away? One is to be as clear as possible in the terms in one's estate planning devices as to what property goes to whom, as confusing or unclear terms could open the door to interpretation issues. Estate planning attorneys can assist individuals in making sure their wills, trusts and other estate planning documents are appropriately clear and specific.
Source: Huffington Post, "Robin Williams' Wife, Children Battle In Court Over His Estate," Sudhin Thanawala, Feb. 3, 2015