Tag Archives: tips to avoid probate court

John Steinbeck Estate: Heirs Fighting 40 Years After He Died

American icon John Steinbeck, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and Pulitzer Prize, having authored such classics as Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden, died at age 66 in 1968.  Even a mind as creative as his likely couldn’t have envisioned a fight over his property continuing to rage more than 40 years after he died.

When he died, much of John Steinbeck estate passed to his third wife, Elaine (whom he married in 1950).  He did  not specifically include the literary rights to his works, so they passed under the residual clause in Steinbeck’s will, to Elaine.  Elaine, in turn, died in 2003.  She left those rights and other property to her family members, excluding Steinbeck’s children.  This included her husband’s summer home in upstate New York, which passed to her sister, Jean Boone.

The New York Times recently wrote an interesting article about the lawsuit by the children against Boone and others, which sought to reclaim the house and

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Family fight over control of Michael Crichton’s trust

Celebrity estate battles just keep coming.  Here’s the UPI article about the latest in a long line of court cases involving dueling heirs of the rich and famous.  Best selling author Michael Crichton (writer of ER and Jurassic Park) left behind a messy estate and trust because he failed to update his estate planning documents to provide for his son, not yet born when he died of cancer at age 66.  I wrote about the problems this caused in a prior article.

Then his estate had to contend with the claim of his wife, Sherri Alexander, who filed paperworking seeking seven million dollars from his estate under a prenuptial agreement she signed with her famous husband in April 2005, before their marriage.

But the real fight just began.  A few days ago, Crichton’s daughter, Taylor Crichton, filed a petition in the Los Angeles Probate Court to remove Sherri as one of the three trustees of Crichton’s trust, claiming she’s breached her fiduciary duties.

Sherri’s attorneys issued a

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