You may have read our earlier article on the estate of Thomas Kinkade: The Battle over Thomas Kinkade’s Estate – Two Wills and an Estate Plan in the Mix. You likely have also seen information about it on television and online. The battle over this estate is likely to be long and brutal as two women – his girlfriend and his wife – battle against each other for Kinkade’s assets.
The court has set a date to begin discussions on the Kinkade estate. On September 17th there will be a hearing to decide whether Amy Pinto, Kinkade’s girlfriend of 18 months, should be able to remain in his mansion for free, pay rent to remain, or whether she should be required to move out entirely. There may also be a decision made on whether the will contest should be submitted to binding arbitration. It is also possible that a neutral third party would be selected to administer the estate as both Pinto and Mrs. Kinkade are far from neutral.
At this moment, the odds do not look in the favor of Ms. Pinto. California is a community property state and because the Kinkades had never finished their divorce, Mrs. Kinkade could be construed as the proper owner of his property. This could be construed as ownership over his property and home. However, during their separation the couple filed a stipulation about the house where the title was transferred to Kinkade in exchange for a payment of $1.2 million to his wife.
Also, despite the fact that one of the hand-written wills bequeathed his $10 million insurance policy to Pinto, that is an asset that does not pass under a will or a Living Trust (the same as with retirement accounts – although a living trust can provide added protections). The insurance policy’s payout at death goes to the beneficiary named on the policy, which Kinkade never managed to change from his wife.
The two wills created by Kinkade will also have to be proved as valid, which could prove difficult for Pinto as the writing is worse then chicken-scratch. Mrs. Kinkade’s attorney would have to approve that there was undue influence on Kinkade by Pinto to write the wills, and/or that he was not at capacity to create such documents. Since the handwriting is so poor, odds are that they will attempt to prove that Kinkade was intoxicated when creating the documents, and that Pinto encouraged him regarding what to write. This process will likely take at least a year in the court to determine.
So far, it seems that this probate will be a very long, costly and quite involved proceeding. This shows the importance that documents are kept current with a person’s situation. Knowing that the Kinkades were in the process of a lengthy divorce, the trust documents should have been properly updated. If Kinkade did want to pass on his assets to Ms. Pinto, he should have seen an attorney to properly remove his wife as the beneficiary on his Trust and to create new documents naming Pinto instead. Unfortunately, Kinkade did not take these steps, instead creating a very complicated situation for all parties involved.
Make sure your documents are current with your personal situation. If you have had changes in your life, ensure you review and update your documents to reflect said changes. To schedule a free review of your documents, contact us today at 888.222.1328.
About Morris Hall:
At Morris Hall, we have focused our legal practice on estate planning for over 40 years. Along with estate planning, our attorneys help clients and their families with matters of probate, trust administration, wills, power of attorneys, business planning, succession planning, legacy planning, charitable gifting and other important legal aspects. We also have divisions in financial, real estate and accounting to help you incorporate all of your planning together, ensuring that everything works perfectly for your needs and situation. Our Arizona offices are located in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tucson, Prescott, Flagstaff and Arrowhead. Our New Mexico offices are located in Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe. Contact us today at 888.222.1328 to schedule an appointment!
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please contact an attorney in your community who can assess the specifics of your situation.