Robin Williams’ family has been ripped apart in a bitter legal dispute over the late comedian’s estate.
The Mrs Doubtfire star’s widow is taking the actor’s three children to court over his Hollywood fortune and some of his most cherished personal belongings.
In dispute among other things are thought to be the Oscar the actor won for his performance in Good Will Hunting and his six Golden Globes, two Emmys and five Grammys.
In papers filed in San Francisco Superior Court, Susan Schneider Williams says some of her husband’s possessions were taken without her permission from their home following his suicide at the age of 63 in August last year.
The children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody, counter that their father’s third wife is ‘adding insult to a terrible injury’ by trying to change the trust agreement and rob them of the late actor’s clothing and other personal items.
“The Williams’ children are heartbroken that Petitioner, Mr. Williams’ wife of less than three years, has acted against his wishes by challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate,” lawyers for the children said in court papers.
Last night, Mrs Williams’ lawyer, James Wagstaffe, said she was only seeking guidance from the court about the meaning of certain terms in the trust.
“This is not ugly,” he insisted. “I would not say this is anticipated to be a highly contested proceeding.”
Allan Mayer, the lawyer representing the children, declined to comment.
The coroner ruled Williams’ death a suicide that resulted from asphyxia caused by hanging.
Mrs Williams has said the comic was struggling with depression, anxiety and a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Williams had publicly acknowledged periodic struggles with substance abuse, and he had entered a rehab clinic shortly before his death.
According to the coroner’s report, his wife told an investigator that Williams did not go there because of recent drug or alcohol abuse, but rather to reaffirm the principles of his rehabilitation.
Williams’ trust granted his children his memorabilia and acting awards and some other specific personal items, according to court documents.
Mrs Williams says that because he wanted her to continue to live at the Tiburon, California home they had shared, it makes sense that he intended only for his children to have specific personal items that were 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,” say the court papers.
The two sides also disagree over items put in storage, watches Williams owned and his memorabilia.
Williams’ children — Zachary, 31, his son by his first wife, Valerie Velardi; and Zelda, 25, and Cody, 23, his daughter and son by his second wife, Marsha Garces Williams — filed their response last month, but details of the legal action only became public yesterday.
The New York Times said Mrs Williams signed a pre-nuptial agreement in 2011 but that it was unclear what it said.
“Mr. Williams wanted his wife to be able to stay in her home and not be disrupted in her life with her children,” said the widow’s lawyer, Mr Wagstaffe. “Compared to what the Williams children were set to receive from their father, this is a bucket of water in a lake.”