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Bay Area Estate And Tax Planning Law Firm
Estate Planning
Trust Administration and probate

What can happen when executor appointment is, well, not optimal

| Oct 16, 2017 | Probate And Estate Administration |

It’s a safe bet that the three former wives of famed — and now deceased — song writer/guitarist Jerry Garcia do not hang out together listening to Grateful Dead albums.

Ditto that regarding former girlfriends and children from Garcia’s various relationships.

Here’s why: Garcia appointed his third (and last) wife to be the personal representative (often termed executor) of his estate. Following his death in 1995, not much has gone right with that.

In fact, notes a columnist writing for the legal publication Lexology, much has gone wrong, with “messy circumstances” prevailing and bringing constant conflict.

We noted the central role that an executor plays in probate and estate administration in our October 12 blog post, stressing therein that the rights and duties can sometimes seem overly complex and outright murky.

And that can turn out to be especially true in a case like Garcia’s, with various exes, children from multiple relationships, high-asset accounts, complicated intellectual property considerations regarding copyrights, trademarks, royalties and more.

Although appointing a former spouse as executor works out just fine in myriad instances, the Lexology contributor notes that things seemed predictably problematic for Garcia’s estate from the very moment his third wife signed on as executor. The expectation that she would safeguard the financial interests of other former spouses and their children under high-net-worth circumstances in a problem-free manner has proven to be unrealistic.

We candidly note in our above-cited blog post that “most executors need help” carrying out their estate duties, especially when things entail complexity to any degree.

There is certainly no question that Garcia lived large and frenetically, with material consequences blossoming in his wake. As the Lexology piece notes, he “left a difficult situation behind when he died.”


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