One of the most important aspects of estate planning is communication! Most estate plans are typically looked at every 3 years allowing for changes and updates to be made, and any good estate planning lawyer will urge their clients to clearly communicate their exact wishes with the ones they love or through the established trust, as to avoid any potential family conflict.
In the case of Mr. Alan Thicke, an insufficient living trust created some undesired conflict between his eldest sons, who are co-trustees of their late father’s estate, and his third wife, Tanya Callau, regarding some provisions and property designations set forth in a prenuptial agreement signed with Tanya before their marriage in 2005.
Thicke’s sons made accusations of Tanya attempting to invalidate the prenuptial agreement in order to gain a larger share of the estate’s assets. His substantial estate included an insurance policy, a ranch home in California, along with acreage, a living trust, personal property, pensions, and retirement accounts.
One of the biggest issues was in regards to the division of Alan’s ranch home in Carpinteria, where he lived with Tanya. The prenup granted 25 percent of his net estate, in addition to a parcel of the ranch property. However, the trust, which was last updated in 2016, had not granted Tanya ownership of the ranch, only the right to stay indefinitely, so long as expenses were covered such as mortgage payments and any needed upkeep of the property.
The resulting family conflict tied the estate up in legal battles and unnecessary strife. It is essential when creating an estate plan to be clear about which documents are intended to control in the event of a conflict in terms. Additionally, Alan’s estate plan should have been designed and coordinated with his existing prenuptial agreement.
The lesson to be learned here is to regularly make updates to your estate plan, communicate your wishes clearly, and lastly ensure that your estate plan does not conflict with other legal documents, as it did in this particular case.
If you have any questions about your estate plan, or wish to discuss options that are right for you and your family, please contact Atlantis Law with all of your estate planning needs!