Gregory S. DuPont
Larry King: Truth Be Told
Larry King was famed as a talk show host because he was known to be direct, and straight to the point throughout his lengthy career.
The same could not be said of his estate planning. When King died in January of 2021, aged 87, he had been married seven times and was in the middle of his seventh divorce.
He and his wife of 22 years, Shawn King, had filed for divorce in August 2019, however, this had not yet been finalized. In October of 2019, King handwrote a will, completely shutting his wife out of his $2 Million estate. The handwritten will requested that 100% of his assets be divided equally among his five children.
King’s son from a previous marriage, Larry King Jr., petitioned to be the administrator of King’s estate. His wife has filed objections to his son’s request, and also to the updated will. Shawn King claims that the handwritten will is not sufficient to replace King’s official will and their “watertight family estate plan” that had been filed in 2015. She also claims that King was pressurized into changing his will.
The 2015 document names King’s wife as Trustee of the King Family Trust. The trust is in charge of King’s name and likeness rights as well as the sole shareholder of King’s company LK Productions and Larry King Enterprises, Incorporated, both of which will likely continue to generate an income for many years to come.
The situation is further complicated as the handwritten will included two of King’s children who died last year.
In California law, handwritten wills are valid if they meet certain requirements such as King’s will be written in his handwriting. It must be signed and dated and he must have been of sound mind at the time. There is no requirement for the handwritten will to be witnessed which means they are more susceptible to fraud.
Larry may have intended the handwritten will as a simple fix to his last will and testament. Unfortunately, the document may turn out to not be worth the paper it is written on because of the additional expenses and litigation involved.
Estate planning can be a complicated, even tedious process. However, it’s worth taking the time to complete to avoid estate disputes and familial upset in the future.