As estate planning lawyers , we often remind their clients about the need to take action with regard to updates when life changes take place. One of these is a change in marital status. If you don't take the appropriate action you could be leaving behind quite a tangled mess and people that you love may suffer the consequences.
The matter of the estate of popular painter Thomas Kinkade is a case in point. The self-proclaimed "Painter of Light" died on April 6 of this year at the age of 54 due to acute intoxication via the use of alcohol and Valium.
Kinkade's estate was estimated to be valued at around $66 million when he passed away but of course earnings will be ongoing as his work continues to sell.
About two years prior to his death Kinkade's wife Ninette filed for divorce but it was not finalized at the time of his passing so he was legally married. The couple had an estate plan in place and it was professionally prepared.
However, Kinkade had a live-in girlfriend named Amy Pinto-Walsh. She has produced handwritten wills signed by Kinkade that leave her $10 million and some real property.
Nanette is going to contend that these documents are not valid because her husband was not of sound mind when he executed them. Experts say that the holographic wills must have been authored when the painter was extremely intoxicated given the poor nature of the handwriting.
Clearly, you must make the appropriate changes when you enter into a new relationship if you want to provide for your significant other. Impairment, however, may occur from the effects of intoxication as from dementia. Given the nature of this issue and the amount of money involved, we can expect expensive legal wrangling for a very long time.