The controversy surrounding the estate of painter Thomas Kinkade, including his palatial mansion in Monte Sereno, California, will continue as the court begins probate proceedings early next month. Among the issues at the heart of the controversy are the validity of claims made by Kinkade's live-in girlfriend and the documents that she claims express Kinkade's desires for the division of his property. The case provides for excellent celebrity drama, but also serves as a cautionary tale for those who may not recognize the advantages of avoiding probate.
When a person has a substantial estate to transfer upon their death, he or she will often utilize wills and trusts to handle many of the issues that they may face. Wills and trusts are often an excellent way to avoid probate court and to see that the deceased person's wishes are followed when it comes to asset protection. One Filipino woman who owns property in California and elsewhere understands the importance of estate planning as she is expected to inherit some $33 million from a wealthy recluse she had nursed for years.The massive inheritance that Hadassah Peri is expected to receive comes from Huguette Clark. Ms. Clark died at the age of 104 and is the daughter of a wealthy copper baron. She is perhaps best known for her reclusive behavior, having not been seen in public circles for an estimated 70 years. Mrs. Peri has been Clark's private nurse (and reportedly close personal friend) for over 20 years. She came to the United States in 1972 from the Philippines.
According to public records, while on medical leave from Apple in 2009, co-founder Steve Jobs and his spouse are said to have placed at least three properties into trusts. One reason for doing this may have been their desire to keep their assets from being disclosed in the event of his death. Jobs died on October 5 from pancreatic cancer in California at the age of 56.