Artist Thomas Kinkade died of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose at his home on April 6th at age 54. Since that time, a legal battle between Kinkade's estranged wife, Nanette, and his live-in girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh, over the artist's estate has ensued. Earlier this month, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Leslie Nichols ordered several disputes between the parties to confidential arbitration proceedings in lieu of an open probate court battle.
Pinto-Walsh initially petitioned the San Jose court for legal authority to oversee approximately $66.3 million of Kinkade's estate. 48-year-old Pinto-Walsh also reportedly believes she was painted as a gold digger in the media and asked that at all proceedings regarding Kinkade's estate be held in open court so that her reputation may be redeemed. Nanette Kinkade opposed Pinto-Walsh's petition and requested a restraining order to keep Kinkade's girlfriend from speaking about estate matters in public.
One of the issues sent to arbitration is whether Nanette Kinkade violated the late artist's medical directive which stated Pinto-Walsh had a power of attorney over medical matters and the disposition of his body. Instead, a trustee of Kinkade's estate reportedly attended the coroner, made funeral arrangements, and refused to allow Pinto-Walsh to attend the artist's funeral. Another issue that will be arbitrated surrounds an alleged confidentiality breach made by Pinto-Walsh when she spoke to the media in the days immediately following Kinkade's death.
Only Pinto-Walsh's claim that Kinkade left the home in which the couple was living at the time of his death and an additional $10 million to her will proceed in probate court. In support of her claim, Pinto-Walsh submitted two shaky, barely legible, handwritten documents which were purportedly written by Kinkade last fall. In the documents, Kinkade allegedly bequeathed his mansion to Pinto-Walsh so she could establish a museum of his artwork inside the structure. The artist also reportedly bequeathed $10 million to his girlfriend in order to fund museum expenses. The portion of the late artist's estate Pinto-Walsh seeks to administer is believed to be the value of artwork already inside of the home.
The next hearing in the legal battle is scheduled for July 2nd. At the hearing, the court is expected to determine whether the handwritten notes are authentic, and if so, whether Pinto-Walsh unduly influenced the artist when the notes were created. An attorney for Nanette Kinkade stated that the artist's last will did not include Pinto-Walsh. Additionally, he said the estranged couple's joint formal, written, and irrevocable estate plan was up to date at the time of Kinkade's death.
Sorting through probate matters after losing a loved one can be tough. Contact Ginzburg & Bronshteyn, LLP if you have questions or need assistance with a probate or other estate litigation matter. Our knowledgeable Santa Monica probate lawyers help clients located in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills with a wide variety of estate litigation issues. To speak with a hardworking Southern California probate attorney today, please call Ginzburg & Bronshteyn at (310) 914-3222 or contact our skilled lawyers through our website.
Thomas Kinkade girlfriend loses effort to defend reputation, by Julia Prodis Sulek, San Jose Mercury News