Update on a Probate Case

We were looking back on some of the probate cases we’ve written about over the last year and, sure enough, one of them had a significant update in the last month or so. It casts the spotlight on the duties of executors/trustees.

It is the Alan Thicke estate. You may recall that Alan Thicke died suddenly, he had a prenuptial with his third wife, she was left assets in a trust for her and her home’s upkeep, the children from previous marriages were not pleased.  When we wrote about it last year the situation had gotten quite tense but, at the last minute, cooler heads seemed to have prevailed and it looked like things were headed to a smooth finish.

Which they did. For a time. Now comes news that Thicke’s wife, Tanya, is headed to court to challenge the executors/trustees, his sons Robin and Brennan.

She claims that they are spending money on themselves while holding on to assets that were earmarked for her. She adds that their spending is ‘reckless.’ She further notes that she has received virtually no communication from the estate whatsoever, and has been completely kept in the dark as to disbursements.

Her lawyer, while not filing suit yet, has told TMZ and many other media sites, “The fact that Tanya still hasn’t received her inheritance is unconscionable.”

Turns out that the parties have been quibbling about a number of different expenses throughout the probate process. Things like reimbursement for a  burial site monument commissioned by Tanya and a ‘a massive memorial party’ in honor of Thicke thrown by his sons have been, and continue to be, argued over. So far, the sons have been reimbursed while Tanya has not.

There’s clearly deep-seated rancor that has probably existed since before Tanya and Thicke married in 2005. The sons, as we wrote last year, went to court to file an injunction (of sorts) to stop Tanya from trying to nullify the terms of her prenup agreement.

The case was thrown out with the Judge noting, one would think somewhat sarcastically, that as Tanya had not done anything, the matter was premature. Tanya claims the ‘boys’ sued her solely to throw bad publicity her way.

What strikes us is that the second the Thicke estate headed into probate court the potential problems – and potential problems in probate very much equal increased expenses to the estate – were starkly evident. Two executors/trustees/heirs with a multitude of issues with the other main heir. There was very little margin for error.

Communication between everyone involved, then, was the key to successfully navigating through probate and into administrating the estate. Any lack of communication was going to be seen as nefarious.

We don’t know all the issues here and we certainly don’t know how far back the ill-feelings go (though we can guess) so we won’t (and wouldn’t) take sides. But … we sympathize with Tanya at this point because she’s been cut off from knowing anything about her own inheritance – from her husband no less.

It’s her fundamental right to receive this information. As it would be anyone’s who is in a similar situation.