After their long legal dispute, Robin Williams family can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
Susan Schneider Williams (Robin’s widow) filed a court petition in December last year. Now, almost a year later both sides have waved the white flag and reached a settlement outside of court.
Susan’s initial claim was that everything in the home that she and Robin shared prior to his death, should be left out of the items that were willed to Robin’s three children. Their home, in Tiburon, California, contained items that Susan believed she had more of a right to than William’s children. She claimed that some items were taken without permission and that she needed to be receiving money from the actors estate in order to maintain the home they shared.
Robin’s three kids (Zachary, Zelda and Cody) countered her claim stating that Susan was trying to change the trust agreement. They stated that she was clearly trying to stake ownership over valuables that Robin had intended to leave for them.
The longer the dispute went on, the more complicated it became. More and more of Robin’s items came into question. Susan questioned the children’s claim on Robin’s bicycle collection, his career awards, his watches and even family photos.
When the case was first filed, Williams children were “heartbroken”. They felt that their stepmother was “adding insult to terrible injury” but also disrespecting Robin. They said she “acted against his wishes by challenging the plans he so carefully made for his estate.
As of September 25, Susan agreed to drop her petition and let the case go. Of course this agreement came after Meredith Bushnell (who represented the children) and James Wagstaffe (who represented Susan) came to some sort of compromise.
In their final settlement, Wagstaffe ensured that Susan would receive enough money to cover living expenses and home maintenance for the rest of her life. She also received one of Robin’s favourite watches, a bicycle that the couple bought on their honeymoon and all of their wedding gifts.
Wagstaffe released a statement which said:
“Mrs. Williams is able to keep the few emotional items she requested, such as their wedding gifts, selected clothing items, a watch Robin often wore, plus the bike she and her husband bought together on their honeymoon. (…) The Williams children will receive the vast majority of the items they demanded, such as more than 50 bikes and over 85 watches, as well as thousands of never-disputed items like Robin Williams’s Academy Award statue. With an overall estate estimated at more than $100 million, Mrs. Williams will be receiving only a fraction of the overall estate, representing those funds sufficient to allow her to remain in the home for her lifetime.”
Susan told People magazine that it was difficult to be happy with the outcome. She said:
“While it’s hard to speak of this as a win, given it stems from the greatest loss of all, I am deeply grateful to the judge for helping resolve these issues. I can live in peace knowing that my husband’s wishes were honoured. (…) I feel like Robin’s voice has been heard and I can finally grieve in the home we shared together. While it was painful to have truckloads of his belongings removed from our home – it’s the few sentimental items I get to hold onto that mean everything to me. I thank God for this.”
Now, with concessions made on both sides, the children can move on. Bushnell told People magazine that “the children are relieved to have this behind them”.
It’s a real shame that the people that meant the most to Robin were at odds over “stuff”. I’m sure wherever he is now, he is also relieved that the whole legal mess is over.
I hope they can all take a second now and reflect on what’s really important. The legacy, not the estate, that he left behind.