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Lack of clarity brings Farrah Fawcett portrait to court

Many people in Fullerton have very strong opinions on what should happen after they die. From funeral arrangements to who should get what, anyone who has a clear understanding of what they want should make their wishes known. Only by letting people know what they want will they stand a chance of getting it. The one person that they really must talk to, however, is an estate planning attorney.

Drafting a will is one way to distribute your property after you die, but it is important that the will is properly drafted and free from possible confusion. If, for example, a mother leaves her "car" to her son but she has two cars when she dies, how does the executor know which car is the son's? Should he get both of them? If not, who gets the other one? If the will said the son gets the 2006 Saturn Ion, however, there would be no confusion (presuming the other car wasn't also a 2006 Saturn Ion).

It appears that it was confusion that forced actor Ryan O'Neal and the University of Texas to court recently. The confusion was two-fold: what did actress Farrah Fawcett mean when her will left her "art" to the University of Texas and who owned a portrait of her by Andy Warhol?

Essentially, O'Neal said that Fawcett couldn't have given away the potrait because it was his. The university disagreed, saying the portrait was hers and, thus, it was one of the pieces of art it inherited from the late-actress's estate. Had Fawcett just listed the pieces of art that she was leaving to the university, all of this could have been avoided.

In the end, the jury found that the portrait belonged to O'Neal.

Source: CNN, "Ryan O'Neal can keep Farrah Fawcett portrait, jury says," Ann O'Neill, Dec. 20, 2013

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