A general rule of wills is that the most recent valid will revokes any wills made earlier. But what happens when the validity of the more recent will is in question? This can make a huge impact if you named different beneficiaries in the recent will than you did in your earlier will. In a case like this, you can certainly expect an estate fight.
This is what has happened in the estate of Thomas Kinkade, an artist known as "the painter of light". He left not one, but three, wills. The earliest one named his former wife, while the second and third named his girlfriend. There is some controversy about whether or not the second and third wills (which were home-made and had some problems) are valid. This pits the former wife against the current girlfriend in court.
A large part of the problem in this case is that there is some evidence that Mr. Kinkade was an alcoholic and that such addiction affected his ability to make the second and third wills. This is what the court will have to determine. I can just imagine the circus this will become, once witnesses begin to testify.
It's so unfortunate that Mr. Kinkade didn't see a lawyer to have his will changed properly. All of this litigation could have been avoided. Now not only will his estate be publicly exposed and picked apart, so will his personal life. His girlfriend and his former wife will be involved in this costly, unhappy mess for a long time to come.
A sad adjunct to estate litigation is the pain, humiliation and loss of privacy for the family members left behind. It's worth it to get professional advice to protect your own family from this kind of trouble.
Click here to read more about this story from American lawyer Kyle Krull.