There’s a bitter feud brewing between legendary broadcaster Larry King’s estranged wife and one of his children. King, who passed away in January 2020, leaves behind an estimated $2 million estate. At the heart of the controversy is whether King’s 2019 handwritten Will revokes and thereby supersedes the 2015 estate plan prepared by lawyers.
The short, hand-scribbled note, declares “This is my Last Will & Testament. It should replace all previous writings[.] In the event of my death, any day after the above date I want 100% of my funds to be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Lary Jr (sic) Chance & Cannon.”
So why is this case full of curiosities? Many news outlets examine only the question of whether the 2019 handwriting would be considered a valid Will but the reality is that there are so many more questions raised. Even though Larry King lived and died in California, I’ll explore in a follow-up article how these questions might be answered under Texas law and how Texas courts may approach this case.
First, is a handwritten Will even valid?
Second, does it matter whether Larry King wrote this purported will 2 months after filing for divorce or whether he suffered a heart attack several months prior?
Third, does it matter that his 2015 Will was prepared by attorneys but his 2019 holographic Will was written by Larry King himself?
Fourth, is the 2019 handwriting an amendment (known legally as a Codicil) or is it a Will? Are the words “It should replace all previous writings” sufficient to revoke the 2015 Will?
Fifth, are the words “100% of my funds” too vague to effectively dispose of King’s estate and therefore the 2019 handwriting has the practical effect of voiding his estate plan and results in an intestate situation; in other words, Larry King died without a Will?
Sixth, how does Larry King’s prenuptial or postnuptial agreements with his 7th wife have on the probate of his estate? Why could all of this what-if guessing be rendered moot by a marital agreement?
Seventh, what happens if the Court accepts both documents as being valid and merges the 2015 Will and the 2019 handwriting into one interpretation (through a legal process known as Reformation)?