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Robin Williams' family shows that trusts require specificity

By now, many District of Columbia residents know that prior to his death, Robin Williams drafted his estate plan in order to provide for his current wife and children. His painstaking effort when setting up trusts, however, failed to keep his family out of court. His widow is claiming that provisions of the children's trusts lack specificity. She says that she is asking the court for clarification.

The late actor and comedian reportedly left his personal belongings such as memorabilia (including his entertainment awards), clothing and jewelry to his children. At the same time, he left the home he shared with his widow to her. She claims Williams never intended for the children to have access to the items in that home while she is living there. She further claims that the children have already taken certain items from the home.

She asserts that Williams meant for the children to have his personal belongings that are located in a second home he owned in Napa, California. The children responded to her allegations recently. They say that they are heartbroken that she is requesting that the court change the provisions of his trusts. Reports indicate that they disagree with her interpretation wherein all of the personal items located in the home she shared with Williams should remain with her.

The lesson that District of Columbia residents can take away from this dispute is that trusts need to be as specific as possible. Otherwise, all of the hard work an individual put into the creation of his or her trust could be for naught. Heirs and beneficiaries could find themselves at odds over what property each of them is entitled to under the provisions of the trust.

Source: CBS News, "Robin Williams family members fighting over his estate", Feb. 2, 2015

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