Debra L Morrison_headshot_200The artist Thomas Kincade has left a mess for his widow. Kincade died in April from an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium.He left an estate valued at over $66 million.

He was legally separated from his wife of 30 years at the time of his death. She filed for divorce nearly 2 years ago.  He was found dead by his live-in girlfriend of 18 months. The mess was created when the girlfriend presented handwritten notes which apparently left $10 million to establish a museum and his mansion to the girlfriend.

Thomas Kinkade case: Handwritten notes

Hard to read, aren’t they? Forbes magazine said that to call them “‘chicken scratch’ may be deemed offensive to chickens.”  There is even a dispute over whether Kincade was drunk at the time he made these notes, according to the Forbes article.  According to HuffPo transcription:

The first reads: “I, Thomas Kinkade, being of sound mind and body do hereby bequeath to Amy Pinto Walsh $10,000,000 in cash from my corporate policy and I give her the house at 16342 Ridgecrest Avenue for her security.”

The second note states that along with the house, Pinto-Walsh, 48, should be given $10 million to establish the “Thomas Kinkade Museum” at the mansion “for the public display in perpetuity of original art.”

Things are not rosy by any means. Kincade’s widow and girlfriend immediately began to spar after his death. Kincade’s wife kept the girlfriend away from his funeral and even tried to keep the probate matter from the public, but the judge refused to do so.   The judge did enter a gag order that prohibits the girlfriend from talking about her estate claims.

What can we learn by this fiasco? Have an estate plan and a will prepared by professionals! When you have a formal plan and will, change it by making new documents. Even if your estate is not multi-milions of dollars, imagine being Kincade’s child. Even if you were an adult, this kind of news about your parent takes a toll. Plus, the case will take many months, even years, to sort out. In the meantime, the widowed Nanette Kincade and the children, will have to endure the publicity.