Despite his tragic death, Robin Williams’ comedic and dramatic gifts will live on through DVDs, streaming devices, televisions and movie houses.
Williams may have unwittingly left us all an additional gift – a reminder to make sure our estate plans are correct and implemented in all respects.
According to reports* issued shortly after his death, Williams’ estate plan properly included two trusts. One was his real estate holdings. The other was to equally treat and protect Williams’ three children from his two marriages and, through an amendment,** to provide for Williams’ third wife.
Williams injected his typical humor into the process, naming his real estate trust “Domus Dulcis Domus Holding Trust,” which means “Home Sweet Home” in Latin.
Unlike wills, trusts are not usually filed with the court, so that their asset lists and dispositional schemes remain private. In this, Williams got this part of his estate plan right.
According to recent reports,** however, Williams got another part of his plan wrong. That apparent mistake may have embroiled Williams’ children in a lawsuit against his (third) wife, including as to the disposition of Williams’ professional and personal memorabilia and other personal property.
Williams’ children claim that the trust awards them not only Williams’ professional memorabilia, but his life-long collections of movie posters, action figures and graphic novels. Williams’ widow contends that the trust awards the latter collections, and other items, to her.
This dispute might have been avoided, had the trust itemized who was to receive specific memorabilia, collections and other property. Now a judge, not Williams, will have the final say. And both sides will suffer hard feelings and incur unnecessary legal fees.
Don’t get it “almost right” like Williams. Contact your FOS attorney to create or review your estate plan.