Robin Williams’ widow questions interpretation of his trusts

by | Feb 3, 2015 | Trusts |

An unfortunate legal battle has surfaced in the case of Robin Williams’ estate, and the issue has left his children “heartbroken,” according to legal documents. In December of last year, Susan Schneider Williams — who was married to the actor three years prior to his death — filed a petition in San Francisco court to request details about how the trust wished for her deceased husband’s personal possessions to be divided.

The petition specifically questions how the trust intended to divide Williams’ jewelry, clothing, awards memorabilia and other kinds of tangible property. His widow has argued in her petition that the trust intended to split up the contents of Williams’ Napa, California, estate. She said that the contents of the home where she lived in Tiburon should be hers to keep.

In her arguments, she says that Williams would not have wanted his widow’s home to be stripped while she was residing there. She also says that Williams would not have wanted his children to take from his wife the very tuxedo he donned during their wedding. She also argued for Williams’ watches to not be considered as jewelry and therefore should be considered as contents of the Susan Trust. The children, on the other hand, have made valid legal points in disagreement.

There are more details pertaining to this case, but the fact remains: it is exceedingly unfortunate that family members would fall into this kind of a disagreement after this much-loved actor’s death. Although both sides have made valid points, it is likely that Robin Williams attempted to avoid such disputes through the careful planning of his trusts. But was his estate planning careful enough?

When it comes to complex estate planning in New York — especially with matters that involve multiple houses and a great deal of intangible property and personal possessions — it is always the wisest course of action for the estate planner to itemize all personal possessions (even items that only have sentimental value) and indicate who exactly will be the recipient of said items during the dispensation of the estate.

Source: New York Daily News, “Robin Williams’ widow challenges plans made for late comedian’s estate, leaving 3 kids ‘heartbroken’” Nancy Dillon, Feb. 02, 2015