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A battle over the estate of infamous cult leader Charles Manson has been ongoing in California, and on July 13, a judge eliminated two of the four people who had filed petitions. Both said they were sons of Charles Manson, but since both were adopted, their legal ties to him had been severed.

One of the men, a musician, asked if he could have more time to get a lawyer, but the judge said he had already missed several deadlines and dismissed his probate petition. The other alleged son asked that his petition be withdrawn because he did not think he would be successful. This leaves a man who claims to be Manson’s grandson and a man who was his pen pal and who collects Manson memorabilia. Earlier in the year, the alleged grandson won the claim to Manson’s body and had him cremated.

Named as the executor in Manson’s will is another dealer in Manson and other memorabilia related to murders. The legitimacy of this will has been called into question because of several irregularities including a conflict of interest due to the witness and beneficiary being the same person, the pen pal. The will specifically disinherits everyone but him.

Although the specifics of this case are unusual, the general issues that it raises are not. While most estates go through probate without significant issues, will contests are not uncommon. One family member might argue that another family member or someone else exerted an undue influence on the testator, or beneficiaries might fight over how assets are distributed. People who are involved in a dispute about an estate may want to work with an attorney.

Source: Herald Tribune, “Judge’s ruling gives Bradenton man inside track to Charles Manson estate“, Brian Melley, Associated Press, July 13, 2018