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Celebrity chef's will could lead to inheritance dispute

The death of a loved one can throw a California family into turmoil for many reasons, not least of which is the potential for a legal dispute over inheritances. The potential for legal disputes has been highlighted by Anthony Bourdain's will entering probate. The celebrity chef died in Paris in June 2018 as a result of suicide; he had been in France filming an episode of his global food show, "Parts Unknown." At the time of his death, he was estranged from his wife, but the two were not divorced. This means that his spouse has a right to claim a statutory share of the estate.

In the Bourdain case, the chef and his estranged spouse were friends and close co-parents who focused on the well-being of their daughter. However, especially in more contentious separations, the potential for a legal inheritance dispute can be escalated when a person passes away before his or her divorce is finalized. Even if a person's will excludes his or her estranged spouse, that person can make a claim on the estate for the share provided to him or her under state law. Of course, that can put the estranged spouse in legal conflict with the named beneficiaries of the will.

Bourdain's will established a trust for the couple's 11-year-old daughter with the chef's assets, which totaled $1.4 million. The trust will distribute assets to the daughter when she is 25 and 30 before receiving the balance at the age of 35.

When a loved one passes away, people may not want to think about the details of the will. However, fast action might be important to protect a person's rights under the law or challenge the actions of a fraudster who influenced a dying person. An estate litigation attorney may represent heirs in an inheritance dispute seeking to claim their rightful share.

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