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Trusts in Texas are common estate planning tools

The University of Texas is involved in a lawsuit at the center of a dispute. The University asserts that actor Ryan O'Neal stole a painting that was designated for the school as a result of the estate planning of Farrah Fawcett with the use of trusts. They say that the painting was included in a trust left by the actress. The painting is one created by artist, Andy Warhol.

The case came because the painting, the University of Texas claims, was a part of the art collection that was left to it in a trust created by Fawcett. The estate planning documents included many valuable assets, though when they were disbursed, the painting was not among them. This was because it had been removed by O'Neal. During litigation, he claimed that the painting was being held by Fawcett for his benefit because it made his new girlfriend uncomfortable. The painting is a depiction of Fawcett.

O'Neal says that he removed the painting from Fawcett's home after her death because it was his. Conversely, the University claims that it was in the trust. This, they say, is as evidenced by the actions of Fawcett, including her taking out an insurance policy on the painting.

Estate planning in Texas often includes the use of trusts. In most cases, the trust takes ownership of assets and holds them until they are distributed as directed by the trust. However, when the ownership of an asset is at issue, the court, as happened here, may be asked to decide that question based upon the evidence presented.

Source: wealthmanagement.com, Who Owns Warhol's Farrah Fawcett Painting?, Megan Leonhardt, Nov. 14, 2013

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