Words matter. How words are used matters. When wording is unclear, particularly when it comes to one's will, it can cause a lot of problems for one's beneficiaries. This is an issue currently being seen in the Tom Petty probate case. It is also a problem that has been seen in plenty of Louisiana probate cases as well.
Musician Tom Petty died in 2017. Well before his death he had a will drawn up that stated his estate was to be passed on to his wife and two daughters -- who were products of a previous marriage. The will specifically called for his wife and daughters to receive equal parts of his estate. What did he mean by that? That is the question that is still being fought over today.
Some might say that he meant each beneficiary would receive an equal share of his assets and remaining business interests -- meaning everything would be divided into thirds. Others suggest he meant that his wife would receive 50% of everything and his daughters would share the other 50% -- giving his wife the majority control of his estate. The daughters prefer the former take on this subject while the wife prefers the latter. This has caused Petty's girls to file legal claims in an effort to gain greater control of their father's musical legacy and business interests. They are also seeking monetary damages for their legal fees and losses sustained as a result of the estate allegedly being improperly handled.
Only time will tell what will happen in the Tom Petty case. This matter does certainly serve as a good example that having a will in place does not guarantee an easy probate and estate administration process for one's beneficiaries. Louisiana residents who are interested in putting estate plans together can help themselves and their beneficiaries by seeking the assistance of counsel when drafting wills in order to make sure they are worded just right so that one's wishes are crystal clear.