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Robin Williams estate in legal quagmire as family can't agree

After Robin Williams suicide last summer, many months have passed and the world just seems a little less brighter and funnier without the great comedian around. But this time has felt even longer for the family of Williams -- not just because of his untimely death, but because of the legal issues that have arisen over Williams' estate.

Williams' widow, Susan Schneider Williams, contests that property and assets were taken from Williams' home, and it would at least appear that Schneider Williams blames Williams' children for this removal of property and assets. In addition, there is a dispute over allowances that would ensure the upkeep of Williams' home.

A probate judge ordered a two-month delay in any proceedings with Williams' estate back in late March. During this period of time, the two sides have been ordered to undergo private negotiations to try to work out the ongoing issues. If those private talks don't work, a mediator will be appointed. On June 1, the sides will meet again in court, hopefully with the issues resolved.

There are a couple of important lessons to learn here in regards to estate plans and their administration. The first is that even simple things can become complicated when a death in the family is involved. Having legal help by your side to try to smooth over these issues is critical.

Another lesson here is that estate disputes aren't exactly uncommon, and they do prevent families from earning closure from the personal matters involved in a family member's death. Having an ironclad estate plan may not prevent a dispute, but it can certainly go a long way in organizing things for your family.

Source: Reuters, "Attorneys for Robin Williams's heirs spar in court over estate," Emmett Berg, March 31, 2015

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