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Robin Williams' wife, kids agree to settle dispute out of court

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The wife and children of Robin Williams agreed Monday to meet outside court to try to resolve their dispute over a tuxedo he was married in, photographs taken on his 60th birthday and other items belonging to the late actor.

The wife and adult children of Robin Williams agreed Monday to meet outside court to try to resolve their dispute over his estate.

The two sides are battling over the late actor's estate; this includes money, jewelry, awards he won during his career and personal belongings like clothing and toys.

The attorney for the late comedian's children says this legal dispute has been excruciating for them. But the lawyer representing their stepmother says what she's asking for compared to the Williams' children is "a bucket in a lake."

In papers filed in January, Susan Schneider Williams accused her step-kids Zelda Williams, Zak Williams and Cody Williams of taking items from her Tiburon house without permission.

Robin's kids however argue she's trying to change the terms of the trust agreement. They say these are items their father would want them to have and taking this issue to court adds insult to injury.

The battle being played out in public is not at all what Robin would have wanted according to his trustees and they asked unsuccessfully to have the court documents sealed.

"They are disturbed that this petition has been filed and that we're here because as an intensely private person, Mr. Williams would not have wanted this," trustees' attorney Andrew Bassak said.

The dispute pits Robin's third wife against her stepchildren over terms of the estate.

In court Monday, it was revealed that a final inventory of the Tiburon home Susan shared with Robin has 1,200 items that need to be sorted out.

Her attorney believes there's no argument about most of them. "The art on the walls, the furniture, her wedding presents, those are the things that should stay. The other things like the Academy Awards statue and other items they go to the kids as Mr. Williams wanted," Susan's attorney James Wagstaffe said.

Wagstaffe says the handover could begin within the next few days. The children have been arguing about mementos, jewelry, clothing and photos.
Their lawyer says they want to put this legal process behind them. "It's been almost eight months since their father's death and they still have not received the items he wished them to have," the children attorney Meredith Bushnell said.

A local estate expert says while this is not a typical case, family fights are. "It's very important when you plan your estate that if you're going to give an item of personal property that you are very specific in identifying it. I understand in his case there was a question over the definition of memorabilia," estate attorney Joe Corey said.

The judge has given the parties until June 1 to resolve issues through informal talks or mediation. If not, he'll step in.

Robin died in August at his home in Tiburon. The coroner ruled his death a suicide. The actor's wife has said he struggled with depression, anxiety and a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

He was an intensely private individual who gave the trustees absolute discretion over how his personal property was to be distributed, Bassak said.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Andrew Cheng told lawyers for both sides during a hearing to meet before April 10 and enlist the help of a mediator if necessary before returning to court.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Related Topics:
entertainmentrobin williamscelebrity deathscelebritylawsuitfamilyfightactormovieawardmoneyreal estatecourtcourt caseSan FranciscoTiburon
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