Wills are like a box of chocolates: You never know what’s inside p2

We are picking up the thread from our March 1 post about some of the details that can make a will invalid. It is true as well that a will can be valid and still be confusing — and confusion can waste time and money and, unfortunately, can be the cause of discord.

An example in the news recently is the will of actor Paul Walker. He died in a car accident in November 2013, leaving an estate worth more than $10 million and a daughter. According to his will, everything goes to his daughter, who is just 15.

The will also stipulates that his mother should raise his daughter. What’s the problem? The girl’s biological mother is still alive and, it seems, has not surrendered her parental rights.

The girl’s mother lived in Hawaii, and she and Walker never married. Some reports — the case has been an entertainment news bonanza — indicate that Walker had little to do with his daughter during her early years. Then, about three years ago, Walker and his daughter were reunited when she moved to California to live with him. Being a parent agreed with him, it seems, because he did leave his entire estate to her.

Walker  appointed his father to be the executor of his estate. The court approved, but two important questions still needed to be resolved: Where would his daughter, and who would help manage her millions?

His mother petitioned the court this week to be named as guardian of the girl’s person and estate. As a court-appointed guardian, Walker’s mother would be responsible for making decisions about the girl’s education and living circumstances. A guardian must act in the best interest of the ward (in this case, Walker’s daughter) and must report regularly to the court about the ward’s welfare. Notably, a guardian is usually not paid for his or her services.

The petition was noteworthy for a couple of reasons. We’ll explain in a future post.

Source: E! News, “Paul Walker Daughter Drama: Actor’s Mother Petitions for Guardianship, Alleges Meadow Walker’s Mom Has a Drinking Problem,” Natalie Finn, March 19, 2014

Related Posts: The role and duties of the executor of a will, The probate process and living trusts, Dying without a will in Missouri


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