In an earlier post, we talked about an estate battle between the University of Texas and actor Ryan O’Neal over an Andy Warhol portrait of the late Farrah Fawcett.
To briefly recap: The University of Texas claimed that the portrait belonged to it, because Fawcett left her entire art collection to the school (her alma mater) in her will. O’Neal, who had a decades-long informal relationship with Fawcett, believed that the painting was his, and so removed it from one of Fawcett’s residences (with the permission of her trustee).
In late December, a Los Angeles-area jury decided that the portrait belonged to O’Neal after all. During the trial, it considered how to construe Fawcett’s articulated last wishes, as well as O’Neal’s argument that the painting had been his all along and was merely stored with Fawcett’s belongings.
The painting has been estimated as being worth between $800,000 and $12 million.
The reason we covered this story is because it is a good example of how someone (in this case, Fawcett) can think that he or she is being crystal clear as he or she outlines his or her final wishes, and yet there can still be lingering ambiguity. If you engage in estate planning (and you certainly ought to), then it is very important you work closely with your attorney to make your desires as explicit as possible.
If you are interested in speaking with a Texas estate planning attorney, please feel free to contact us at any time. We’re here to help.