In Nevada, it is common for people to use trusts as a part of their estate planning efforts. In most cases, the trust that is created takes ownership of assets that are held for distribution at the time of the death of the creator of the trust or other event. In estate planning documents, the assets can be directed to be given to any number of people or organizations, including universities.
In one recent case, Farrah Fawcett left a trust to benefit a large university from her state. The former actress established a trust containing valuable assets, including artwork. Now, the university is in litigation with Ryan O’Neal, Fawcett’s former boyfriend, over the contents of the trust.
The University of Texas has claimed that the trust contained an artwork created by renowned painter, Andy Warhol. The print depicts Fawcett in Warhol’s typical style and was in her home when she died. However, actor Ryan O’Neal, says that she did not own the painting, thus the trust could not own it, when she died. In fact, he says that she was only storing for him.
In this celebrity litigation, the estate planning documents established by Fawcett will be of primary importance to the court. It has been asked to rule that the trust owns the painting, while O’Neal continues to insist the piece of art belongs solely to him. As would be the case here in Nevada, the court will likely look to the intent of Fawcett when she created her estate planning. It remains to be seen what the outcome of this case will be, though it continues to generate media interest around the world.
Source: wealthmanagement.com, Who Owns Warhol???s Farrah Fawcett Painting?, Megan Leonhardt, Nov. 14, 2013