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Estate of Alan Thicke falls into dispute

The famed Canadian-American actor Alan Thicke, who rose to prominence on the beloved situation comedy "Growing Pains," died six months ago. Now, the actor's estate has fallen into dispute in Los Angeles Superior Court. The dispute relates to a 2005 prenuptial agreement between Thicke and his wife, and the way the agreement conflicts with a 1988 trust that was amended in 2016.

The prenuptial, signed by Tanya Callau, brings up questions regarding what is to be deemed community or marital property and what is to be deemed separate property and how those assets should be divvied up between the actor's widow and his three children.

According to the legal petition filed by Callau, she is alleging avarice and overreaching. The widow says that she hasn't asked for more than her husband planned for her to have. The petition further claims that the woman continues to mourn the death of her husband and hopes that she can resolve "false statements" made by her husband's sons privately.

An attorney representing Thicke's sons says that the question relates to what the actor intended by his estate plans and that they hope to honor his plans while enforcing his trust. The attorney further stated that Thicke had every right to determine the fate of his estate at the time of his passing.

Perhaps the biggest bone of contention in the dispute relates to a $3.5 million ranch that Thicke claimed was separate property in his prenuptial agreement. However, the couple lived there as their home. The prenuptial intended to give Callau 25 percent of his net worth, including 5 acres of the ranch's property. However, the trust disagrees and does not allow her to have any of it -- only the ability to continue living there if she pays all her expenses.

It's never easy when the estate plan of someone who has passed is difficult to interpret for heirs. For this reason, whenever a Tennessee resident plans his or her estate, it's important that every detail is clear without any potential for conflicting statements. The example of the family dispute that has erupted in the wake of Alan Thicke's death is one that should remind us of the need for full clarity in every estate plan.

Source: Forbes, "Robin Thicke Battles His Dad's Third Wife Over Estate," Ashlea Ebeling, May 17, 2017

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