Before they die, few, if any, Oklahomans plan to leave their children and relatives in conflict over their property, assets and decisions about their disposition. This is why people enact wills and use estate-planning tools such as trusts. These tools allow an individual to create detailed instructions about how to dispose or or distribute property and assets and manage the financial affairs of the person's beneficiaries and heirs. A well-drafted trust can ensure that heirs will receive their fair share of an estate.
Unfortunately, even a well-drafted trust can be disputed. This seems to be the case with the trust that the late comedian and actor Robin Williams left behind. Williams' widow is challenging the terms of the trust in court, just six months after her husband's suicide. The widow has reportedly asked a probate court to interpret the contents of trusts that legal observers believe are perfectly clear. The trust allows the woman to continue living in the couple's home in Tiburon, California, while distributing the actor's larger estate in Napa Valley to his three children from two previous marriages.
The trust also specified that Robin wished to distribute his jewelry, clothing and other memorabilia to his three children. According to Susan's filing, the word "memorabilia" is unclear, and some of the jewelry detailed in the trust might be hidden elsewhere than in the Tiburon house.
In this case, Williams' three children are disputing Susan's assertions. The issues probably can be resolved amicably -- but only if everyone works together to honor the express terms of the trust and Williams' express wishes and intentions.
In many other cases, poorly written documents practically invite disputes. In such cases, it may be best to take the case to court.