Farrah Fawcett - An Important Lesson in Trust Funding

Unfortunately, when celebrities die, their controversies don't always go with them. Such is the current case involving the estate of Farrah Fawcett and her ex-boyfriend and father to her son, Ryan O'Neal.

When Farrah passed away she left a substantial estate behind. She also left a pretty well planned Trust to stipulate what happened to those valuable assets. In her Trust, she left her entire collection of artwork to her former university, The University of Texas. A collection that includes works by Warhol that are worth millions. This is where Ryan O'Neal comes into play.

The University of Texas recently sued Mr. O'Neal when it was discovered that one of these Warhol paintings never made it to the school and in fact is still in his possession. He claims that this Warhol painting was not owned by Farrah and was given to him by Andy Warhol as a gift. And that he, Mr. O'Neal, is the rightful owner.

It should be fairly easy to prove ownership of an expensive asset like a Warhol painting given it's immense value. If Ms. Fawcett had the painting appraised and insured, those documents should be easy to find. However, if those documents do not exist, for either party to determine ownership, this painting may end up in a probate battle.

Clearly, Farrah intended for all of her artwork to be gifted to The University of Texas, but that does not necessarily mean this particular painting was part of her collection. If it actually is then this would shine a light on a common estate litigation mistake. However well planned her Trust was, it may not have been well funded. Meaning, each piece of artwork in her collection should have been inventoried and funded to the Trust, including the Warhol piece in question. This may have avoided this battle over ownership completely. A battle, which seems likely, to be very lengthy.

Contact a professional estate litigation Attorney to set up your Trust or to make sure that an existing Trust is properly funded.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be constituted as professional legal advice.
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