The death of actor Alan Thicke last year was unfortunately more than just another surprising celebrity passing. It has sparked a family feud of sorts. Thicke’s sons, Brennan and Robin are one side, and his wife, Tanya, is on the other. Both sides are embroiled in a dispute over how Thicke’s estate should be divided.
The sons, who are co-trustees of Thicke’s estate, accuse Tanya of trying to “strong-arm” them into giving her a larger portion of the estate. They claim that Thicke’s prenuptial agreement controls, which they claim “generously provides” for Thicke’s third wife by providing 25 percent of Thicke’s personal effects, all of the furnishings from the California ranch they shared, death benefits from Thicke’s pensions and union memberships, and a $500,000 life insurance policy, among other things.
Tanya claims that the prenuptial agreement signed in 2005 does not control and that she is entitled to a much larger portion of the estate under California law, despite the sons’ contention that their father amassed a majority of his fortune before marrying her.
The two sides does not appear to be backing down anytime soon.
The saga exemplifies the importance of having a well-written estate plan that thoroughly defines how personal effects and assets should be distributed. The relationship problems that may have been tempered by a patriarch (or matriarch) could be exacerbated after their death. An experienced estate planning attorney can craft important documents in anticipation of these problems. If you have questions about how this may be done for your family, a skilled lawyer can advise you.