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Sacramento Estate Planning Attorney

Marilyn Monroe photographer's will in tense challenge


People in California may have seen a recent news article about the man who was responsible for some of the most iconic fashion photography of the 1960's, and the fate of the fortune he allegedly left to his children. Bert Stern, the man who snapped some of the raciest photos of Marilyn Monroe only weeks before her death, left two competing wills, and a potential court battle between his three children and his wife at the time of his death. He died approximately three months ago, leaving quite a bit of uncertainty as to who will eventually inherit.

Stern created a will in 1997, naming his children as his heirs, with each to receive an equal share, and the rest of his property, including his photographs, to a foundation. However, he was allegedly secretly married to his second wife in 2009, and created a second will in 2010 which would have distributed all of his assets to a trust controlled by his spouse. This type of will, known as a pour-over will, is a legal document that can distribute assets that may not be specifically referenced. They are useful for controlling the wholesale transfer of all assets of a certain type to a person, but may not be the ideal method for distributing assets or money in finite amounts.

Apparently, the two wills are in conflict, and Stern's family members are demanding that the people who witnessed the 2010 will be examined with regard to the creation and signing of this second will. The matter will play out in a New York courtroom over the next several weeks, and it will be interesting to learn more about the terms of the two wills and what each of Stern's heirs will walk away with.

Source: NY Post "Marilyn photog's inheritance fight," Julia Marsh, September 23, 2013

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My Sacramento law practice, Michael A. Sawamura, Attorney at Law, focuses on wills, trusts and estate planning law in addition to business law and corporate defense services. My clients include professionals, government employees, small businesses, blue-collar workers and national corporations.

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