The battle over the control of the estate of Painter of Light™ artist Thomas Kinkade continues; next week, a judge will decide who will administer the estate until the validity of Kinkades’ wills can be determined.
When Kinkade passed away earlier this year, his girlfriend Amy Pinto-Walsh presented two wills allegedly handwritten by Kinkade through which she would receive Ivy Gate, his $7 million mansion, and studio as well as $10 million to open a museum featuring the late artist’s work.
Kinkade’s wife of thirty years, however, wasn’t so keen on the handwritten wills’ provisions. Accordingly, Nanette Kinkade has formally filed papers to contest them. Nanette Kinkade provided the court with a copy of the artist’s original will and three codicils, the latest dated 2007.
Entirely handwritten wills signed by the testator and no witnesses are called “holographic” in legal parlance, and Kinkade’s versions were apparently particularly difficult to decipher. Handwriting expert Bart Baggett told the Mercury News, “I thought he had Parkinson’s or was three sheets to the wind.”
Kinkade and his wife had been separated for approximately two years before his death; after Kinkade’s death, Nanette Kinkade had secured but then not served a temporary restraining order against Pinto-Walsh so the latter would not speak publicly about private details in Kinkade’s life.
Pinto-Walsh had been seeing Kinkade for eighteen months and was living with Kinkade when he died at the age of 54 of acute intoxication of alcohol and Valium; according to lawyers for the estate of Kinkade, Pinto-Walsh is still living in the home, for which the estate has been sending her bills even though the estate continues to pick up the mortgage payments.
Nanette Kinkade’s lawyers are apparently making a claim of undue influence regarding the most recent handwritten wills, alleging that Pinto-Walsh took advantage of Kinkade’s alleged impairment from alcoholism. Documents say that she “was able to and did control and influence the mind and actions of the Decedent to such an extent that Decedent did whatever Respondent instructed him to do.”
Pinto-Walsh, on the other hand, insists that the couple was headed for marriage as soon as the Kinkades’ divorce was final and that his wills expressed his wishes.
Before the court can reach the issue of the authenticity of the wills, however, a judge must first decide who should manage the estate in the meantime, whether it’s Nanette Kinkade, Pinto-Walsh, or an independent third party. The hearing is scheduled for Monday.
The battle over the Kinkade estate is a great reminder to the rest of us to make sure our affairs are in order and our wishes clear before our deaths. Have you prepared your last will and testament?