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Famous inheritance disputes: Robin Williams’ family inheritance battle no joke

Richard Dearden
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Richard Dearden
Famous inheritance disputes: Robin Williams’ family inheritance battle no joke

Robin Williams’ family inheritance battle no joke.

Comedian and actor Robin Williams died in 2014 from an apparent suicide following a struggle with Lewy Body Disease. He left his estate, which is believed to have been worth up to $100m, in trust to his children from previous marriages and his third wife Susan Schneider-Williams. However, Williams’ last wishes turned out to be a little vague, resulting in a legal battle that would last years.

The trust stated that Schneider-Williams could live in the couple’s home in California, but his larger Napa Valley estate and its content were left to his three children. The trust went on to provide for his wife by establishing a fund to pay all the expenses of the home they once shared for the rest of her life.

The trust also described what the Good Will Hunting actor wanted to leave to his children: all his clothing, jewellery, personal photos (taken prior to his marriage to Susan), as well as memorabilia and awards. It also gave his children the ‘tangible personal property located’ in the Napa Valley estate.

Here’s where things got complicated. Schneider-Williams felt that the term ‘jewellery’ should exclude the actor’s collection of watches, that the terms ‘memorabilia’, ‘collectibles’ and ‘knick-knacks’ were not clearly defined, and questioned who would be entitled to property not located in the two homes Williams owned, but instead that were kept in storage.

Schneider-Williams also felt that the provision left to her was unclear. For example, did home renovations count under the category of ‘all expenses related to the residence’?

The inheritance battle between Williams’ children and his wife was messy but ended with a settlement.

One in four people say they would dispute a will if they were unhappy with the division of the estate. Find out how Tower Street Finance is helping more people gain what’s rightfully theirs with its new Inheritance Dispute Funding loan. 

Other probate lending solutions from Tower Street Finance


  • Don’t wait 12 months for your inheritance, get your inheritance quicker with Inheritance Advance
  • Pay Estate Expenses such as funeral costs, Solicitor fees or property maintenance costs with an Estate Expense Funding
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