13th Oct 2022
I recently blogged about whether Anne Heche’s email could act as a Will. You can read the summary of the issues at that link, but basically her ex-boyfriend was trying to say a January 2011 email she sent him should control who is in charge of the estate and who should receive from her estate.
According to Rolling Stone, the Judge in the Heche estate recently told the ex-boyfriend at a hearing that he was “largely wasting your time” challenging whether one of Heche’s sons should serve as Administrator.
Why would the Judge say that? And what does the Will issue have to do with who is in charge of the estate?
Why Would the Judge Say That?
In addition to naming who receives property in an estate, a Will normally names who is going to be in charge of the estate (a Personal Representative or executor or some other title depending on the state law and custom).
I have no insider information and have not studied the case deeply, but I believe this issue of who is in charge is linked to the validity of the Will. In Oklahoma, if there was a legitimate, valid Will, naming someone other than her sons, such as an ex-boyfriend, to be in charge of a case, the Court would have to follow that. Or at least look at it very closely.
There would be some extreme things that could disqualify a person named in a Will from serving. Those would be issues such as certain criminal behavior and the like.
But generally someone named to be in charge of an estate in a valid last will and testament will be appointed by the Court.
If there is no Will, the Court is guided to consider closest relatives first.
Therefore I think the Judge’s comments likely hit on a couple of things:
1. The email naming the ex-boyfriend to be in charge is unlikely to be found a Will. And therefore it is unlikely to govern and guide the Court’s orders.
2. The son in question probably has authority to serve and no serious conduct issue to disqualify him have been put before the Court.
We shall see how it plays out. And try to draw some lessons from these events in future posts.