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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Will contest in Marilyn Monroe photographer's estate heats up

Unfortunately, a will contest can plague any Minnesota family who has had a close relative die. Although will contests can happen in any Saint Paul or Ramsey County estate, they often occur in situations in which a person who dies has children by a prior marriage, but also has a new husband or wife.

When there is a will contest in Minnesota, one group of family members may allege that the person lacked capacity to make a will. If the aggrieved parties can prove that the person did not have the mental ability to make a will, then that will may be set aside in favor of a prior will. If there is no prior will, then the heirs of the estate will be determined according to Minnesota law.

As an example of this type of case, the family of Marilyn Monroe's noted photographer has been in an ongoing battle about the photographer's will. His most recent will left his $10 million in property to his widow. The man's children from a prior relationship, however, are challenging this most recent will, saying that their father did not have the mental capacity to make this will. They are asking a court to enforce a prior will, which leaves the children half of the man's estate.

The latest issue in this battle involves the mental health records of the deceased father. While the children want the public to have access to the man's records, the man's widow objects, saying that the records could damage his public reputation. The widow also reasons that if the man's reputation is damaged, the value of his photography will diminish. This could affect the estate negatively.

Particularly when it involves one's mental capacity to make a will, a probate dispute can be emotional and highly sensitive. Minnesota residents who find themselves in the midst of a will contest may therefore wish to speak with an experienced probate litigation attorney.

Source: New York Post, "Fight over Marilyn Monroe photog's estate takes ugly turn," Josh Saul, Mar. 4, 2014

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