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Jerry's 'actual' kids left out of his will

In our prior post, we highlighted the importance of taking time have clear direction in a will to avoid inheritance disputes. This is because in times of sorrow, some may develop a sense of entitlement that may lead to disappointment when finally learning the contents of a will.

In essence, some may be surprised to learn that they are not included or disinherited. An example of this is seen with Jerry Lewis' will.

The legendary comedian passed away last month at age 91. When his will was probated, it revealed that his longstanding dispute with his children from his first marriage was unresolved. All six of Lewis' children from his 36 year marriage to Patti Palmer were specifically left out of his will. 

A recent People.com report highlights a paragraph detailing how Lewis intentionally excluded them as and their beneficiaries, and that they were not to receive any benefits stemming from his estate. Lewis instead leaves a majority of his fortune to his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, whom he married in 1983. Lewis and Pitnick later adopted a daughter in 1992. The will states that she would inherit the remaining estate if anything should happen to her mother.

Indeed, it is not likely that Lewis' children will challenge his will given the language provided, and it we can only speculate on the tensions between them prior to Lewis' death, Nevertheless, the story exemplifies how specific language is important in conveying one's wishes.

If you have questions about proper wording to communicate your wishes in a will, an experienced estate planning attorney can advise you.

The preceding is for informational purposes only. 

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