Thomas Kinkade estate subject of dispute between his longtime wife, girlfriend

Our readers may have already heard about the death of Thomas Kinkade, the famous "Painter of Light," back in April. At present, a will contest over Kinkade's estate is going on between the woman who was his wife of 30 years and his girlfriend of 18 months. Kinkade and his wife were estranged at the time of his death, she having filed for divorce in 2010.

Almost immediately after Kinkade's death, his girlfriend and estranged wife began sparring. His wife obtained an order to keep Kinkade's girlfriend away from the funeral and preventing her from publicly sharing personal details of her relationship with Kinkade. Kinkade's estate is said to be worth over his $66 million.

Kinkade's girlfriend has since petitioned a probate court to enforce two holographic wlls she claims Kinkade wrote in late 2011. The first of these handwritten wills, dated November 2011, leaves her $10 million from Kinkade's "corporate policy" as well as his house and some property. The second will, which was dated December 2011, includes these gifts, but specified that the $10 million is to be used for the purpose of creating a museum to publicly display his works.

Some have suggested that Kinkade may have been drunk at the time he executed the wills, since they were evidently sloppily written. Sloppy handwriting wouldn't in itself invalidate a handwritten will in California, unless the person was not of sound mind or may have been under undue influence. Even if Kinkade were drunk at the time he wrote the wills, it doesn't necessarily mean he lacked sufficient mental capacity to create a will.

In our next post, we'll continue looking at this story, and particularly how proper estate planning can help minimize the chances of such disputes.

Source: Forbes, "Did Artist Thomas Kinkade Change His Will While Drunk?," Danielle and Andy Mayoras, July 9, 2012

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