It may not seem like most people have very much in common with celebrities when it comes to assets and finances. However, while the nature of an average person’s wealth may be different, the fact is that we all should consider what will happen to these things when we are gone. Whether it is a small sum of money in a retirement plan or a multi-million dollar artwork collection, making decisions for how to distribute these things after death can be crucial.
We can also learn some important lessons from celebrities when there are issues that come up regarding their estate plans. These details are often reported on and shared with the public, which can provide some insight on issues that other people across Los Angeles may also be struggling with.
Take, for example, the battle over Farrah Fawcett’s estate. After her death in 2009, a complicated legal battle broke out during the probate process. Among the most recent issues is regarding an original portrait of Fawcett by artist Andy Warhol. Recently, a jury had to determine if Fawcett’s ex, Ryan O’Neal, should have the artwork or if it should be donated to the University of Texas with the rest of Fawcett’s art collection.
The basic argument in this case is whether the portrait belonged to Fawcett or to O’Neal. If it belonged to Fawcett, it should go to the college, as she specified in her will that all her artwork should be donated to the school. But if it belonged to O’Neal, as he argued it did, it was not hers to give away and the portrait should stay with O’Neal.
After a contentious courtroom battle, a jury recently determined that the portrait did, in fact, belong to O’Neal and that he should be the one to keep the artwork.
While most of us do not have original artwork by a world-renowned artist to consider, the fact is that we all have assets that family members and other parties may feel entitled to. In many cases, disputes over assets can be resolved by the terms of a person’s estate plan. In other cases, it is more complicated and a judge or jury must make a decision. In either case, it can be very helpful for people to work with an attorney to make sure that a person’s intent and wishes are carried out appropriately.
Source: CNN, “Ryan O’Neal can keep Farrah Fawcett portrait, jury says,” Ann O’Neill, Dec. 20, 2013