Almost six months after the untimely suicide of comedian Robin Williams, his wife and children are embroiled in a contentious legal battle over his estate. Court documents filed in California during December and January pit his last widow, Susan Schneider Williams, against his children from his two previous marriages: Zak, Zelda, and Cody Williams in a battle over money and property in his estate. The family is not only arguing over the apportionment of wealth that Robin Williams acquired over four decades of acting, but they are also fighting over personal effects and belongings of the late actor.
Sides of the Case
In the documents filed with the courts, both sides want to hold on to the majority of Robin Williams’ memorabilia that he accumulated over his lifetime. This includes his bicycles, toys, fossils, and other personal reminders of him as a husband and father. The papers show a schism between his last wife, who he married in 2011, and his children that were a highly visible part of his life.
The attorneys for Mrs. Williams claim that days after his death, property was unilaterally moved from their home by his children. In addition, when she sought legal representation for her issues, certain home-related services like newspaper delivery were canceled. Her attorney claims that since she lost “her husband through a shocking and emotionally charged event,” she has not been “given time to grieve her loss free from the frenetic efforts to interfere with her domestic tranquility.”
On the other side, Robin Williams’ children responded to Mrs. Williams in their own motion, stating that they are heartbroken that the woman that he was married to for less than three years has “acted against his wishes by challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate.” The children claim that her attempts add insult to injury and that it is a premature attempt to block what their father wanted them to receive.
Robin Williams’ Estate Plan
The actor’s will was filed after his death, and it left his estate in its entirety to a trust, with its beneficiaries including his three children. The trust was updated after he married his third wife, but Mrs. Williams also signed a prenuptial agreement before their wedding. Under the terms of the updated trust, Mrs. Williams was to receive her own separate trust called the “Susan Trust” which included their home in Tiburon as well as most of the personal property within it. She was also supposed to be given enough cash and property to cover the costs of the residence for her lifetime.
Robin Williams’ children are claiming that Mrs. Williams is arguing for more money before the trust is even funded, and they cited it as “an illustration of greed that appears to be driving the petitioner’s actions.” The trust specified that all of Robin Williams’ “clothing, jewelry, personal photos taken prior to his marriage to Susan,” his “memorabilia and awards in the entertainment industry,” as well as additional property he kept at a second home in Napa were to be given to his children.
However, Mrs. Williams is claiming that she should be entitled to his “personal collections of knickknacks and other items that are not associated with his famous persona.” These knickknacks include his extensive collection of graphic novels, action figures, theater masks, movie posters and other collections that were precious to him. His children have argued that they are entitled to these pieces of their father, as well.