Texans and people across the nation are well-advised to have a comprehensive estate plan. This is necessary to avoid a legal dispute between heirs and to ensure that the assets go where the testator wants. The pitfalls of a perceived failure to do this can be found in cases where a wealthy and famous person dies and had a blended family. Those who believe they should inherit certain items in the estate or be in control of a trust will frequently end up embroiled in a dispute that can take time and significant resources to settle. Such is the case with the late actor Alan Thicke.
Thicke’s widow alleges that his sons from prior marriages are behaving in a reckless manner with his trust and have not given her what she says she is supposed to receive in the inheritance. The sons are the estate’s co-trustees. It has been reported that the sons did not give their approval to the monument his widow selected at his final resting place and did not reimburse her for its cost. According to her, one son – the singer Robin Thicke – received $105,000 for a party in honor of his father.
Thicke’s widow says that she is being charged for costs and taxes that she should not be responsible for. She has threatened to move forward with a court proceeding if Thicke’s sons do not have greater transparency. According to the law, trustees are required to adhere to a fiduciary duty for beneficiaries and act in their best interests. The use of the trust requires an accounting. Should there be a breach in the agreement, this could be cause for liability. Thicke’s widow already won a case in which the sons’ petition to stop her from challenging her prenuptial agreement with her husband was rejected since there was no evidence that she intended to do so. Thicke’s estate plan is believed to have failed in being adequately specific as to his wishes and addressing issues that often accompany many unrelated people seeking part of the estate.
There are many people in Texas who have significant assets and are part of blended families. They can face the same problems as Thicke’s widow and his children currently are. Dealing with these matters can be complicated. If a testator has not formulated an estate plan that addresses them, probate litigation might be necessary.