The estate of Thomas Kinkade, the popular artist and businessman, who was famous for his paintings depicting cottages, idyllic settings, and scenes with Christian themes, is gearing up for a fight between the artist’s girlfriend and his wife.
Kinkade’s wife, Nanette, from whom Kinkade was separated at the time of his death, has received a restraining order against the artist’s live-in girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh. The court documents, filed on behalf of the Kinkade Family Trust, attempt to prevent the girlfriend from making statements or engaging in conduct that would reflect negatively on Kinkade. They also prevent her from disclosing information on Kinkade’s business, Windermere Holdings. Kinkade’s wife is the trustee of the Kinkade Family Trust and also executor of the artist’s estate.
These recent legal maneuverings will add a potential new twist to the circumstances surrounding Kinkade’s death. Kinkade passed away suddenly in his home on April 6, 2012, at the age of 54. His family attributes his untimely death to natural causes, but results from an autopsy have not been released and Kinkade’s brother has stated that the artist had relapsed into alcoholism.
This brewing debacle serves to illustrate the extreme importance of updating an estate plan following the occurrence of a life changing event. Kinkade’s wife had filed for divorce two years prior to his death, but the proceedings had obviously not been finalized and Kinkade’s estate documents would appear to designate his estranged spouse as the person who will control his estate. The result? A significant other who is left out of the conversation and forced to battle against a spouse who may or may not have been the person Kinkade intended to have such a high level of control over his affairs.
Once a person has passed on, the only legally binding way to glean their intentions is from the estate planning documents they have left behind. When individuals fail to update these documents after life changing events, such as a separation, even the most carefully planned estates may fall into the hands of individuals whom the decedent never intended to have control; while those they cared for, and cared for them, at the time of their death may be left out in the cold. Meanwhile, the estate is on the hook for the legal bills, which can become enormous.
If you have undergone a life changing event and need to update your estate plan, contact a Florida estate planning attorney who can assist you today.