I just read the article on the Sacramento Bee’s website (sacbee.com) about the Thomas Kinkade estate dispute. What a horribly unnecessary waste of legal resources!
With just a little bit of estate planning Mr. Kinkade could avoid his legal wife and apparent girlfriend from fighting in Court. Each has to hire at least one attorney and drag the laundry right through the Court of public opinion.
He was legally separated from his wife and thus he was free to change his estate plan if he wanted to. Maybe he did want to give his estate to his girlfriend!? That’s great. That’s his privilege and with some simple estate planning documents that could be accomplished. Or maybe he wanted to leave everything to his wife of 30 years even though they were legally separated. Again, that could be accomplished with some simple estate planning work.
In all cases just hire an experienced estate planning attorney and get it done right! Avoid the fights after death!