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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Sir Peter Ustinov’s Blended Family Drama

Interesting News from the World of Estate Planning

By John O’Grady. O’Grady Law Group

Two-time Oscar-winning Best Actor Sir Peter Ustinov died in 2004 at 82, but his surviving family members’ battle over his estate rages on. Ustinov starred in such films as Spartacus, Logan’s Run, and Death on the Nile, and was worth tens of millions. Ustinov wrote his only will in pencil in the mid-1960s – and judges ruled it invalid after Ustinov’s second marriage in 1972.

Ustinov’s son from his first marriage claims his father set up trusts giving his four offspring much of his estate, and filed suit to prevent his stepmother from acquiring Ustinov’s assets. But nine years in, most parties involved believe Usti-nov’s fortune is almost all gone because it has been spent on lawyers’ fees.
The lesson learned is leave a legacy of familial peace by communicating with your loved ones and working with a qualified estate planning lawyer to properly document your estate planning intentions.



John O‘Grady, O’Grady Law Group, APC, is the Immediate Past Chair of BASF’s Estate Planning, Trust & Probate Section.

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