Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How Not to Revise a Will - Thomas Kinkade Edition

At the intersection of estate planing, celebrity, and public voyeurism, is the Thomas Kinkade estate litigation.  At the time of his death, Mr. Kinkade was separated from his wife for 2 years and had been living with a girl friend for 18 months.  His girl friend has offered 2 barely legible wills which leave her various sums.  The illegibility is allegedly due to his inebriation while writing.  Generally, a handwritten will is valid as is a will made while drunk (see the full article for some of the conditions and exceptions).   This matter will take years to resolve.

What advice can we glean from Mr. Kinkade's handling (or non-handling) of his affairs:

1.  Once separated from a spouse, change the estate planning documents immediately.

2.  If changing the documents, hire an estate planning attorney rather than DIY.

3.  If eschewing an estate planning attorney in favor of DIY, write the will while sober, not highly inebriated.  

Still unresolved is the effect of his death on the value of his art.  I am betting downward.