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Girlfriend, wife fight over artist Thomas Kinkade's estate

When a wealthy person dies in Nevada, sometimes a court battle is waged over the estate. The ligation most often happens in the probate court and can cover many issues. This was the case recently after the death of famous artist Thomas Kinkade.

At the time of his death, the artist was living with a girlfriend in his home. This woman has produced two documents that she purports are handwritten wills and submitted them to the probate court. These wills, if valid, could change the previously created estate plans of Mr. Kinkade and appear to leave control of his vast estate to the girlfriend. In addition, the handwritten wills leave his multi-million dollar home to her. In contrast, the Kinkade Family Trust that was created by the artist and his wife many years ago leaves the bulk of his estate to his family.

In addition, the parties apparently signed a confidentiality agreement prior to Kinkade's death that was said to be intended to protect the artist, his business and his family. It was this confidentiality agreement that was the subject of the most recent litigation in this probate matter. Recently a court held that a hearing concerning those issues must be held in open court rather than the private proceedings requested by the trust.

Like some probate matters in Nevada, this case has many unanswered questions. Among the most important is determining the actual wishes of Mr. Kinkade for the distribution of his large estate after his death. The estate includes an estimated $66 million in original artwork, as well as a home and $10 million in cash.

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

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