Many of us know Larry King as the charismatic and enticing American television host. On January 23, 2021, Larry King passed away leaving a large estate and as recent reports reveal, a handwritten or Holographic Will leaving his entire estate to his five children, excluding his surviving spouse Shawn King, Shawn was King’s seventh wife and to make matters more complex- at the time of his death, King filed for divorce from Shawn, but died before the divorced was finalized.
So what does this all mean? First, King’s estate will end up in probate court as Wills (handwritten or otherwise) must be probated. In addition, reports reveal that his surviving spouse plans to contest his Holographic Will. Second, this is not the first time we have read reports about a celebrity’s estate plan or lack thereof headed to probate court.
In King’s situation, a Holographic Will, like any Will, is subject to probate for Shawn to contest and the court to validate. Moreover, assuming the family court handling King’s divorce never formally terminated the estranged couples’ marital status, then upon the death of King the family court loses jurisdiction over the divorce proceeding, at which point probate court will have jurisdiction over the probated matter. When this happens, typically it means the deceased spouse’s community property and at least a portion of the deceased spouse’s separate property can pass to the current (estranged) spouse.
Reading reports of post-death probate litigation or contests of poorly drafted estate plans is always cringe-worthy because the issues could have been avoided with a proper estate plan. If a divorce proceeding is involved, then it is smart for parties involved to actively explore their options and understand the legal avenues available to protect their assets in the event of death.
Here at Chauvel & Glatt we know that your assets are important to you and that you want to ensure that your property will be distributed according to your wishes. To learn how our attorneys can assist you with your estate planning or other legal needs, contact us today.
This material in this article, provided by Chauvel & Glatt, is designed to provide informative and current information as of the date of the post. It should not be considered, nor is it intended to constitute legal advice. For information on your particular circumstances, please contact Chauvel & Glatt at 650-573-9500.