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What to learn from the dispute over Robin Williams' estate

Of the many benefits that come from executing an estate plan, none is perhaps more rewarding than the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have done everything in your power to make things easy for your family, including minimizing the potential for disputes.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that sometimes even the best laid estate plans can go awry. In other words, circumstances sometimes arise in which families still end up in probate court despite the careful estate planning measures taken by their deceased loved one.

By way of illustration, consider the ongoing estate battle between the widow of the late comedian and Oscar winner Robin Williams, and his three children from prior marriages.

Despite having executed a comprehensive estate plan carefully outlining who was entitled to what possessions, the two sides have been fighting over the contents of his California home, including jewelry, photographs and awards.

However, while it appeared that the two sides were headed toward potentially lengthy litigation, the matter is now actually one step closer to resolution following a hearing in a San Francisco-area probate court earlier this week.

Here, the two sides agreed to resolve their issues via private mediation held before the end of the month, a move that should help ensure the matter is resolved not only efficiently and effectively, but also privately.

While cases like this serve to illustrate how family members of the deceased can end up in probate court despite the existence of an estate plan, they also serve to illustrate how an experienced legal professional can protect your rights and your best interests in any forum.

Source: Time, "Robin Williams’ widow and children agree to mediation in estate fight," Michael Miller, March 30, 2015

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