Battles over the assets of those who have passed are far too common, for millionaires and non-millionaires alike. Usually they involve whether someone was competent when a will or trust change was made, whether a joint bank account owner was supposed to share with the rest of the family, who gets the wedding ring, or other disputes over money and property.
But some fights aren’t about money.
59-year old Andrea Walker was crushed when her 64-year old husband died of pancreatic cancer last August. The couple (who owned a 1000-year-old castle turned into a luxury hotel) had a rocky relationship at times. In fact, the husband, Brian Walker, reportedly told Andrea he was leaving her in November, 2008, only to return when his cancer was diagnosed a few months later. They were very close in the months leading up to his demise, with Andrea devoting herself to Brian’s care.
At least Andrea thought they were very close.
Shortly after he passed, she found a red file Brian had kept. What was in it? A series of documents showing that Brian had donated sperm to a lady he was friendly with.
Andrea was shocked. She had yearned to have children with Brian, but he steadfastly refused — saying he was too old (he was in his late 40’s when they met). Andrea was always sad that they never had a family together.
So, not surprisingly, she couldn’t bear the thought and betrayal of Brian giving his sperm to another woman without telling her. Brian had even given more than $100,000 to the woman, including credit card payments to the IVF center less than a month before he died.
So Andrea sued the fertility center seeking to have the medical records released to her and the donated sperm destroyed. The IVF center says that, legally, the wife doesn’t need to consent to the donation of sperm, so they intend to honor the documents Brian signed. They say that Brian and his female friend told them they were “partners”. Reportedly, Brian wasn’t romantically involved with the woman (although Brian did have an affair a few years earlier with someone else).
Andrea’s lawsuit claims the signatures of Brian are forged. She also seeks to change the law to require the spouse’s consent in a situation like this.
If she fails, and the child is conceived and born, will the baby be entitled to a share of the millionaire’s estate? It’s an interesting question.
London’s Daily Mail newspaper has the complete story here.
While fights over frozen sperm (especially a millionaire’s frozen sperm) are rare, probate and estate related lawsuits do happen more often than most realize. Good estate planning is the best source of prevention.
But when a loved one is determined to betray someone — like poor Andrea — there’s usually nothing than can be done to stop it ahead of time. That’s when it’s time to consult with an experienced probate litigation attorney and learn what options are available.
By Andrew W. Mayoras and Danielle B. Mayoras, co-authors of “Trial and Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!” and husband-and-wife legacy expert attorneys. As educators across the United States through speaking engagements, print, broadcast, and social media, Danielle and Andrew consistently draw rave reviews and are in high demand. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find us on Facebook!