Robin Williams' family locked in battle over estate as widow contests his €40m will
Robin Williams’ widow is locked in a bitter legal dispute with the late actor’s children over his estate, leaving them “heartbroken”.
Susan Schneider Williams, who was married to the comedian for three years before his death, has filed a lawsuit against his three children in a disagreement over property left in his will.
Williams died at his northern California home last August aged 63. The coroner ruled his death a suicide.
The actor and comedian was struggling with depression, anxiety and a recent Parkinson's disease diagnosis when his personal assistant found him dead.
In his will, Williams stipulated how he wanted his €40 million fortune to be split up, but his widow is now formally contesting it.
In papers filed in December at San Francisco Superior Court, Williams' wife has asked the court to exclude the contents of the £4.5 million home that she shared with Williams, including the jewellery, memorabilia and other items he wanted the children to have.
She argues that as her husband wanted her to stay at their marital home in Tiburon, north of San Francisco, it follows that he intended only for his children to have items he kept at another home he owned in Napa, California.
"Any other interpretation would lead to Mrs Williams' home being stripped while Mrs Williams still lives there," her lawyers wrote.
Williams' trust granted his children his memorabilia and awards from his 40-year career in the entertainment industry, including his 1998 Oscar for the movie Good Will Hunting.
Zak, 31, Zelda, 25, and Cody Williams, 22, counter that Mrs Williams, who has two teenage sons of her own, is attempting to redefine her late husband’s will.
The children acknowledge Mrs Williams has the right to keep items that she accumulated with the comic during their marriage, but believe she is trying to alter some of the terms listed in the will.
They claim she is trying to “redefine the word jewellery” to keep a watch that belonged to the Mrs Doubtfire star.
Mrs Williams also accuses his children - from two previous marriages - of taking items from her home after his death without permission.
She asserts in the documents filed to the court that she lost her husband through “a shocking and emotionally charged event,” and had not been “given time to grieve her loss free from the frenetic efforts to interfere with her domestic tranquillity.”
Mrs Williams lawyer James Wagstaffe said Monday his client was only seeking guidance from the court about the meaning of certain terms in the trust.
"This is not ugly," he said. "I would not say this is anticipated to be a highly contested proceeding."
But Williams' children say that she repeatedly refused them access to family photos and "precious" collections of Japanese anime figurines, watches, bicycles, books, coins and other effects that Williams carefully amassed over his lifetime and intended to bequeath to them.
They accuse Mrs Williams in court documents of attempting to ignore the “plain language of his will and trust”.
They say they are “heartbroken” over her "greed" and that Mrs Williams has “acted against his wishes by challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate.” and are "adding insult to a terrible injury".
The court case has shone a spotlight onto the late actor’s affairs, which he had in his lifetime pained to keep private.
He shunned the Hollywood lifestyle, living much of his last 20 years in the small town of Tiburon, where he grew up.