Robin Williams’ family feuds over the handling of his property

If you own an estate in Texas, should you put it in a trust, or is a will sufficient to ensure that your property is dispersed the way you desire?

That is a good question, and one that you may well want to take up with an estate attorney. In Robin Williams’ case, he decided to put his estate into a trust. However, with his passing away in August last year, it has his current wife and adult children in a feud over memorabilia and other items.

Williams’ current wife alleges that some of his personal items were removed without permission. She also filed papers in December to have the contents of their home excluded from the adult children’s inheritance.

According to the wife’s attorney, she has worked with them amicably on distributing hundreds of items belonging to Williams already, and he believes they will be able to work through the rest. However, she does want their wedding presents and claims that Williams’ intended certain assets and funds to be reserved for her home’s maintenance.

So, is a trust worthwhile if the family is still feuding over Williams’ estate and property? There are many advantages to a trust. For instance, if the estate had been in a will, the issues that are being resolved now, and the items that are being dispersed, would probably spend months or years in probate court. One person in the family can hold the entire estate ransom while probate is ongoing.

Another advantage to a trust is that it is private. It is not made public, and does not go through probate court. In Williams’ case, he gave his trustees full discretion of how his personal property should be distributed. He apparently trusted them to work it out with the attorneys on both sides, which in the long run, may require mediation.

When setting up a trust, you have the option to provide your own personal instructions as to how you want your property handled. You can eliminate a lot of family quarrels in this way. There may also be tax advantages when using a trust. An estate attorney can provide advice and explain the differences between trusts and wills, helping you to decide what is better for your situation.

Source: Watertown Daily Times, “Robin Williams’ wife, children head to court in estate fight,” March. 30, 2015