Robin Williams Estate In Litigation – Is Anyone Surprised?

Robin WilliamsAs Reported in Todays The Telegraph.

Robin Williams Estate In Litigation

The widow of Robin Williams is locked in a bitter legal dispute with the late actor’s children over his estate, leaving them “heartbroken” over her “greed”.

Susan Schneider Williams, the comedian’s third wife, has filed a lawsuit against his three adult children from previous marriages in a disagreement over property left in his will.

Williams died at his northern California home last August aged 63. The coroner ruled his death a suicide.

The actor and comedian had been struggling with depression, anxiety and a recent Parkinson’s disease diagnosis when his personal assistant found him dead.

In his will, Williams stipulated how he wanted his $45 million (£30 million) fortune to be split up, but his widow is now formally contesting it.

In papers filed in December at San Francisco Superior Court, Williams’ wife has asked the court to exclude the contents of the $7 million home that she shared with Williams, including any jewellery, memorabilia and other items he wanted the children to have.

She argues that as her husband wanted her to stay at their marital home in Tiburon, north of San Francisco, it follows that he intended only for his children to have items he kept at another home he owned in Napa, California.

“Any other interpretation would lead to Mrs Williams’ home being stripped while Mrs Williams still lives there,” her lawyers wrote.

Williams’ trust granted his children his memorabilia and awards from his 40-year career in the entertainment industry, including his 1998 Oscar for the movie Good Will Hunting, six Golden Globes, two Emmys and five Grammys

Robin Williams Estate
Robin Williams with wife Marsha and son Zak in 2002 (Rex)

Zak, 31, Zelda, 25, and Cody Williams, 22, counter that Mrs Williams, who has two teenage sons of her own, is attempting to redefine her late husband’s will.

The children acknowledge Mrs Williams, a graphic designer who married their father in 2011, has the right to keep items that she accumulated with the comic during their marriage, but believe she is trying to alter some of the terms listed.

They claim she is trying to “redefine the word jewellery” to keep a watch that belonged to the Mrs Doubtfire star.

Mrs Williams also accuses his children – from Williams’ two previous marriages – of taking items from her home in the weeks after his death without permission.

She asserts that she lost her husband through “a shocking and emotionally charged event,” and had not been “given time to grieve her loss free from the frenetic efforts to interfere with her domestic tranquillity.”

Robin Williams Estate
Susan Schneider Williams was married to the actor for three years before his death (Rex)

James Wagstaffe, Mrs Williams lawyer, said on Monday his client was only seeking guidance from the court about the meaning of certain terms in the trust.

“This is not ugly,” he said. “I would not say this is anticipated to be a highly contested proceeding.”

But Williams’ children say that she repeatedly refused them access to family photos and “precious” collections of Japanese anime figurines, watches, bicycles, books, coins and other effects that Williams carefully amassed over his lifetime and intended to bequeath to them.

They accuse Mrs Williams in court documents of attempting to ignore the “plain language of his will and trust”, and underscored their feelings by mentioning that she was married to the actor for “less than three years.”

They wrote that they were “heartbroken” over her “greed” and that Mrs Williams has “acted against his wishes by challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate.” and are “adding insult to a terrible injury”.

The court case shines a spotlight onto the late actor’s affairs, which he had always been at pains to keep private.

He shunned the Hollywood lifestyle, living much of his last 20 years in the small town of Tiburon, where he grew up.

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 40 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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