We’re continuing our discussion of actor Paul Walker’s will and the provisions for custody of his daughter (see our March 21 post). Our discussion of Walker’s will actually stemmed from a discussion of valid but confusing wills. According to new reports this week, though, the court has sorted out the matter, and the parties — Walker’s mother, his daughter, and the girl’s biological mother — seem amenable to the court’s terms.
Walker designated his mother as guardian to his teenage daughter. The girl had been living with him for a couple of years. The fact that the girl’s mother is still living and, it seems, has not given up her parental rights, muddied the waters a bit. So Walker’s mother petitioned the court to be appointed guardian of the person and the estate of her granddaughter.
According to E! News, Walker’s mother explained in court documents that both Walker’s daughter and the girl’s mother live with her and added that the teen had lived with her since before Walker’s death. She also said that the girl’s mother “has a drinking problem.” In fact, the two women and the teenager appeared in court together.
The court denied the petition and granted custody to the girl’s biological mother. There is one condition, though: The woman must first go through rehab for her drinking problem. According to the Oregonian, the judge did not believe there was any immediate need for a change in the girl’s legal status.
For the time being, then, the story has a happy ending. It does, however, raise estate planning issues for single parents and unmarried parents. If parents do not agree on who will take care of their minor children after they die, the court will have to step in. And that can leave a grieving child in limbo for weeks.
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
The Oregonian, “Paul Walker’s mom denied custody of granddaughter; Justin Bieber and Austin Mahone unrivals: Celebrity news,” David Stabler, April 3, 2014