The world remembers Robin Williams as a talented actor and comedian, and we were saddened to learn of his tragic death in August of last year. For his family, however, Williams was more than just an entertaining funny man who will be missed; he was a beloved husband and father. And that fact makes the resulting estate dispute all the more heart-wrenching.
For those out of the loop, in December Susan Williams-Schneider, Williams' widow, filed legal action against the actor's surviving children, Zachary, Zelda, and Cody, in San Francisco County Superior Court. According to Susan, the children had unlawfully moved several items out of the Williams' Tiburon home (Robin Williams had designated the home to Susan in his trust). Williams' children, meanwhile, say that what they took rightfully was theirs - watches, clothing, and photos that were taken prior to Robin's marriage to Susan. Citing the trust, the children have responded that their father specified how memorabilia and belongings dating from before his last marriage would be entrusted to their care. The latest development in the Robin Williams estate case could be cause for some hope, though. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Andrew Cheng ordered the attorneys for both parties to conduct mediation outside of the courtroom. Susan and the Williams children have until June 1st to reach a settlement on disputed details of the trust, with the first meeting to be scheduled before April 10th. Williams' widow has expressed willingness to find a compromise, while his children have also indicated they'd like to see the matter 'wrapped up as soon as possible, so they can move on with their lives and continue the grieving process.'
Family feuds over estates are terrible because leave their own scars on top of the loss we suffer. Add in probate litigation, and now you have a serious financial and emotional drain on your life. If at all possible, seek settlement and reconciliation - mediation - outside of court. No less than Abraham Lincoln, an experienced lawyer in his day before becoming president, had this advice to share:
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can.