You may recall reading our post last year lauding how Robin Williams protected his family by minimizing estate taxes using real estate holding trusts and providing for his adult children through trusts. Unfortunately, his planning still did not allay a family feud. His estimated $100 million estate was to be inherited by Williams' three children, with a provision in his will for his widow, Susan Schneider Williams, whom he had been married to nearly three years at the time of his death.
Schneider claimed that her late husband's provisions did not leave her enough to maintain the six-bedroom Tiburon, California home, and she wanted to retain some personal possessions. A legal battle ensued. Last month, the dispute was settled out of court with the assistance of the judge. Schneider will be able to live in the home until her death, when Williams' children will inherit the property. Schneider also received their wedding gifts, clothing, and a watch.
Communication of one's estate plan is important to avoid disagreements upon a person's death. Clarifying to each party who is getting what and why goes a long way in allowing families the time to grieve rather than fight.