Kirk Kerkorian, eighth-grade dropout, billionaire, casino and film dealmaker, died at age 98 in June 2015 with an estate plan that’s playing out like a movie script.
Kerkorian married the young Una Davis a year before he died and, the day before their wedding, cut a deal to give her $10 million outside of his estate in exchange for the written waiver of her spousal right to claim one-third of his estate. According to one witness, Davis lasted just 57 days in Kerkorian’s home before she was kicked out.
Kerkorian did not mention Davis in his will and left the bulk of his multi-billion-dollar estate to charities to be selected after his death. As you might have expected, Davis sued the estate, claiming her waiver is deficient, and that Kerkorian was subjected to the undue influence of those around him and lacked the required mental capacity because of his advanced age.
The Court of Appeal recently ruled that the estate’s executor was within his rights to challenge Davis’ demand, but the validity of the waiver remains unresolved. But one thing is certain: failing to learn from the Kerkorian’s drama can leave loved ones with a highly complicated mess while they’re grieving. So inspire your clients to work with an estate planning lawyer – and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their affairs are in order. Estate of Kirk Kerkorian (2018) 19 Cal. App. 5th 709
About the author:
John O’Grady leads a full-service estate and trust law firm in San Francisco. His practice includes Estate Planning & Administration, Probate and Trust Litigation.