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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

John Steinbeck estate takes another legal turn

Estate disputes can be a major headache for families. When an estate is in dispute, many family members can be upset and stressed, which can cause hurt feelings and resentment. Any family can have an estate dispute happen to them, including famous authors.

John Steinbeck, the iconic American author who died in 1968, is no exception to estate disputes. His estate has been under dispute for decades. The author left most of his estate to his third wife and two sons. He also specified that profits from his work go to his third wife. His descendants have been arguing over his estate almost since his death. The latest argument involves who has the rights to the profits of the film adaptations of The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden. Steinbeck's stepdaughter and son were in disagreement over who owns the intellectual property rights of the late author. A jury recently awarded $13.15 million in damages to the author's stepdaughter, but the defendant plans to appeal.

An estate dispute often pits family members against each other. When an estate is open to dispute, those who are involved often find themselves at odds with the other heirs. An attorney who specializes in estate disputes understands what a family is going through. It is important to learn what the decedent intended to do with their estate and make sure their wishes are followed. Heirs may need to also consider the emotional cost of probate litigation as well.

An estate dispute is a serious matter for families. When a family is at odds over what their benefactor intended in their estate, it can lead to a family disagreement that takes years to heal. If you have questions regarding trust administration, you may wish to speak with an attorney.

Source: The New York Times, "Steinbeck's Heir Wins Lawsuit," Alexandra Alter, Sept. 7, 2017

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