Remembering Robin Williams – Privacy and Estate Planning

18 August 2015 Katie Articles

This month we celebrate the one year anniversary of Robin Williams’ death. The beloved actor, father and husband took his own life in his Bay Area home- likely triggered by depression and mental health issues. Although he had an estate plan in place, his family’s privacy is invaded through the court process due to a discrepancy over his trust.

Many times, the saddest part of death is not the actual loss of a loved ones life, but what happens to the family unit afterwards. Like many families, Robin’s wife has spent the past year in court battling with the actor’s three children over money and assets. A time for grieving, healing and connecting, has again turned into greed, disputes and pettiness over material possessions. A rather private person, Robin created a trust to protect his family from such discourse and public intrusion. While a will is public information when you die, one of the benefits of a trust is the privacy it grants by avoiding the judge-dictated process of probate court.

So why is his family fighting in court?

Robin’s trust made it very clear that his wife, Susan Schneider Williams, should be provided for, but failed to state exactly how much money that is. The trust, like many, planned for the big ticket items like real estate and bank accounts, but did not designate ownership of the little items like paintings and collectibles.

That explains why Susan filed a petition last winter, upset that Robin’s children were claiming memorabilia that was gifted to her, such as “knick-knacks and other items not associated with his famous persona.”

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