Anne Heche’s Estate – Who Gets the Captain’s Seat?

As you likely already know, Hollywood star Anne Heche passed away after crashing her car into a home. Unfortunately, she died with her affairs out of order. Now, a battle is occurring for control of her estate.

An Untimely Death

Anne Heche died in an untimely and unexpected fashion. While speeding down Los Angeles streets, the actress slammed into a house and suffered injuries that proved to be fatal. Because her death was unexpected, she left many loose ends behind.

An Incomplete Estate Plan

An incomplete estate plan is one of the major pieces of unfinished business Heche’s family is dealing with. Without a valid, complete estate plan, the courts must get involved to administer the estate according to the probate law in that state.

Under California law and Florida law, a personal representative must be chosen as the executor of the estate, which may occur in two ways – appointment by the will of the deceased or appointed by the probate court. And herein lies the heart of the current dispute over her estate: she left no valid will.

A Struggle for Control

Two parties are in a legal battle to be named the representative of Ms. Heche’s estate – her oldest son, Homer Lafoon, and her ex-partner, James Tupper, who is the father of her youngest child.

Lafoon’s argument is that there is no valid will in place. Without a valid will, and thus no named representative, the court must appoint an executor. Lafoon wants the role and has filed a petition to be named as such. As her eldest son, he is directly in line for the title.

However, James Tupper alleges that Ms. Heche named him her estate’s administrator in an email over a decade ago. He has the email as proof. Now, the estate must pass through probate to determine the existence and validity of a will and to name a representative.

How Florida Would Rule

Probate laws from state to state share many of the same principles. However, there are details and nuances that separate them. If Ms. Heche was a resident of Florida, how would the case turn out?

First of all, Florida also requires there to be a personal representative who is appointed by will or by the court. So her oldest son, Lafoon, would do what he did in California and file a petition to be named the personal representative. Tupper’s argument would also be the same, and the same court battle would ensue.

Who would win under Florida probate law? It is likely Lafoon would win because the email Tupper claims made him the executor is not a valid will or clause. In Florida, for a will to be valid, it must be signed by the testator and two witnesses, among other critical requirements. Hence, the email has no legal effect.

The Heche case serves as a cautionary tale to the living, especially those with precious assets. If your affairs are not in order, it is well worth your time and costs to contract the services of an experienced estate planning attorney.

Contact The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm today for a consultation. You and your family deserve peace of mind about your assets and the future.