Widow of Robin Williams Contesting Estate

Widow of Robin Williams Contesting Estate

Provided By: Alan G. Orlowsky

Contested Estates – The widow and children of famed comedian Robin Williams are fighting over his estate in court, according to theguardian. Filing paperwork in December and January, Williams’ wife, Susan Schneider Williams, accused the comedian’s children from previous marriages of taking personal items without permission from her home. She is also asking the court to exclude the contents of the home that she shared with Robin Williams from the jewelry, memorabilia, and other items that he requested go to his children in his estate.

His children have countered her arguments in court by claiming that Williams’ widow is attempting to change the terms of the trust agreement set up for her by Robin Williams and is trying to rob his children of his personal effects. Their attorney has spoken out and said that “The Williams children are heartbroken that [the] petitioner, Mr. Williams wife of less than three years, has acted against his wishes by challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate.”

Robin Williams’ trust granted his children various pieces of memorabilia, awards, and personal effects of his from both his homes in Tiburon, California and Napa. His widow claims that the trust should be interpreted by the court to only mean the items in the Napa home. In addition the children and the late comedian’s wife are arguing over who should inherit specific items in storage, accessories, and various other pieces of memorabilia from his decades-long career.

Illinois Contested Estates

According to the Illinois Probate Act, 755 ILCS 5/8-1 states that “Within 6 months after the admission to probate of a domestic will . . . any interested person may file a petition in the proceeding for the administration of the testator’s estate or, if no proceeding is pending, in the court in which the will was admitted to probate, to contest the validity of the will.”

In order to properly contest a will, a person must have standing to do so. Illinois courts define this as a person that has a direct, pecuniary, existing interest that would be detrimentally affected by the probate of the existing will. This also includes legatees of a prior will that could potentially inherit if the current will is set aside.

Grounds for Contesting a Will

Under Illinois law, there are a number of grounds that an interested party can assert for contesting all or part of an estate. However, the person asserting the grounds also has the burden of proof to prove that the current interpretation or version of the estate as planned is invalid. The grounds that can be asserted for invalidating a will include:

  • Undue influence;
  • Lack of testamentary capacity;
  • Fraud;
  • Forgery;
  • Revocation;
  • Ignorance of the contents of the will;
  • Partial invalidity;

…or any other grounds that would prove that the current estate, as distributed, is not the decedent’s will.

Call an Illinois Estate Planning Attorney

If you or someone that you know has questions regarding a contested estate or any other questions regarding estate planning law in Northbrook, Evanston, Skokie, Glenview, Glencoe, or Highland Park, let the experienced attorneys at Orlowsky & Wilson, Ltd. help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

Updated as of July 2019
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