Berman & Asbel, LLP

Thomas Kinkade's estate remains contentious

In court this week, the lawyers for late artist Thomas Kinkade's former live-in girlfriend claimed that she is unsafe. The house she and Kinkade shared before his death, which she has been renting to the tune of $11,000 a month, was allegedly broken into this week. This break-in is the most recent in a string of vandalism in Amy Pinto's life. Her car and two of her friends' cars have been recently vandalized as well. Her attorneys claim it is not a coincidence.

This is the latest in the bizarre probate dealings in regards to Kinkade's fortunes. Pinto has laid claim to assets of the estate, claiming that the couple had a verbal agreement in addition to two handwritten (apparently barely legible) wills. Kinkade's divorce was not yet final when he died, and so the estate has gone to his wife.

This case reflects some of the rather sordid details of estate planning. Though Pinto has claimed she and Kinkade planned to wed as soon has his divorce was final, his formal will did not grant her the $10 million and house she has claimed he promised her. No doubt the loss of a loved one often results in people wanting to hold on to pieces of their former life, however, in this case, the law seems to favor Kinkade's marriage.

What can the average person take away from this situation? Be sure you've got it all planned out, down to the last detail. The complications in this case are numerous, the least of which is the problem of the scrawled, handwritten copies of the wills. Having an attorney well-versed in the law who can advise you on how to best divide your assets and ensure that the bitter fighting seen in Kinkade's case won't happen with your estate.

Source: The Mercury News, "Thomas Kinkade's girlfriend to pay $11,000 a month to stay in artist's mansion," Julia Prodis Sulek, Sep. 18, 2012

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