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Charles Manson, responsible for nine murders almost half a century ago, died of natural causes last month at the age of 83, and once again he appears to be causing chaos. Apparently, during all his years in prison, he failed to do any legitimate estate planning, leaving his potential relatives and friends to fight over his belongings in probate court.
Did Manson have a will? That seems to be the question of the day. Two people claim he left a will naming them as sole beneficiary, while others dispute the fact that a will existed. Another claims to be his only legitimate relative.
One of the men claiming to be the sole beneficiary of a will was a long-time pen pal of Manson’s. Allegedly he and Manson had been exchanging letters over the years; he had also visited Manson at the prison. He filed a two-page will with the court that was dated Feb. 14, 2002. The will leaves everything to him.
Another possible heir is a musician who claims to be Manson’s son. An attorney, and producer of YouTube videos for the purported son, claims to have received a will from Manson in January naming the musician as his son.
The third potential heir is Manson’s purported grandson. Although he makes no claim to a will, if the other wills cannot be validated, he may end up being the only legitimate heir. He had exchanged letters with Manson and spoke to him over the phone in recent years.
Manson’s years in prison may not have left him with expensive heirlooms, but there is no doubt that his fame will add value to what he did have. His belongings include artwork, music, writings and at least two guitars. Probate attorneys believe the real value of Manson’s estate will be in the rights to literary or documentary compositions derived from his image.
The rights to Manson’s belongings and even his remains may be disputed in probate court for a long time before a resolution is concluded. This should be a lesson to us all: If we do not want our loved ones feuding or fighting after we are gone, we need to be proactive and not put off estate planning. At the very minimal, we should all have a legitimate will drawn up and left in safe hands.
Source: New York Post, “Charles Manson’s remains could become a shrine, some fear,” Associated Press, Dec. 6, 2017