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Hand-written letters enter debate over artist's will

Many times when people have sudden changes to their life, such as a pending divorce, or a new relationship, they forget to update important estate planning documents. That might be exactly what happened in the estate of late artist Thomas Kinkade. Kinkade's girlfriend is now asking for the right to manage his estate and keep his mansion, even though it was allegedly bequeathed to her through a hand written note instead of in his will. A court will now try to determine the legality and authenticity of those the hand written notes.

Another note allegedly said the artist's girlfriend was to receive $10 million to establish a museum of his art work. The man's wife, who he was in the process of divorcing, says his girlfriend was just after money. Court papers say the artist and his girlfriend had planned to marry as soon as the divorce was finalized.

Whatever the case may be, controversy surrounding a person's will can often be avoided by making sure that all estate planning documents, including wills and trusts, are up to date when someone is going through a life change. Many times a divorce can complicate exactly what a person wants to happen with their property.

Professionally prepared and signed legal documents can eliminate the need for a court to verify the authenticity of a hand written note. Also, many times hand written notes cause so much controversy because if a person intended to give property to another person they could amend their will to state that.

Source: The Associated Press, "Dispute over Thomas Kinkade's will heads to court," June 13, 2012

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