Plenty of celebrity deaths have raised important considerations about the estate planning process. At the time that he unexpectedly passed away, Alan Thicke appeared to have a fairly comprehensive estate plan in place.

He generated a trust in 1998 for the benefit of his family and executed a prenuptial agreement in 2004, when he married his wife, Tanya in 2005. The trustees of the Thicke Living Trust, his sons Brennan and Robin came forward recently, seeking direction from the court regarding Tanya’s impact. The petition argues that Tanya requested a larger portion of the estate that was allocated to her under the trust terms and  denied the validity of any prenuptial agreement.

She also suggested that she may be entitled to Marvin rights, which are typically brought up to protect an unmarried partner in palimony cases. The term Marvin rights is taken from the case involving the late actor Lee Marvin. Marvin v. Marvin. 18 Cal.3d 660 (1976). Her argument is that she sacrificed her own career to support Alan Thicke and has now been severely prejudiced in her career potential as a result.

Even though California is a “community property” state, the critical point of interest here has to do with the intersection of two different legal documents; the trust and the prenuptial agreement. The prenuptial agreement determines what of the property in the estate is considered community and this is the property that Tanya would maintain ownership rights over.

This highlights the complexity of the estate planning process and how failing to plan or not considering all the different legal documents you have previously created may intersect with your estate plan can lead to problems.

Even if you’re not a celebrity, it’s important to have the right estate planning lawyer in Massachusetts help you articulate your goals.

Link to Marvin case:

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