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Robin Williams' estate teaches important lessons

We have often discussed how important it is for estate plans to be concise. We have also discussed how important it is for people making estate plans to name trustees and estate administrators whom they trust. The battle over Robin Williams' estate is an example of how essential these aspects of estate planning really are.

Williams' widow and his children have been battling in court over some of his assets. Interestingly, Williams did have a will in place and trusts set up as part of his estate plan. The battle rages on despite the planning Williams did before his death.

As part of his estate plan, Williams appointed trustees to make decisions that plan. These trustees were people whom Williams knew and felt would handle his assets in accordance with his wishes. The lawyer for Williams' three children said that Williams didn't want the court or his beneficiaries to interpret the trusts.

There are several issues in contention right now. These include millions of dollars in personal property such as bicycles, books, artwork, and other items. Another issue at hand is the reserve trust that is used to help Williams' widow maintain the couple's home in Tiburon, California.

The children and widow are using mediation to try to work through the issues. If they can't work things out, Williams' widow has asked the court to step in and make decisions about the items.

It is always important to make your estate plan as clear as possible. Letting your loved ones know your plan ahead of time can help you to decrease the chance that they will end up in probate court regarding your assets.

Source: ABC News, "Robin Williams' Family Back in Court Over Estate Dispute," Sudhin Thanawala, Aug. 28, 2015

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