Fine artist Thomas Kinkade died in April, leaving behind a very valuable estate. Almost immediately after his death, his estate was already in court battling with Mr. Kinkade’s girlfriend, Amy Pinto-Walsh. When he died, Mr. Kinkade was still married to Nanette Kinkade, his wife and mother of his four children, though the two had been estranged for some time.
Now, Ms. Pinto-Walsh is asking a California probate court to allow her to contest the estate in a probate court proceeding. Ms. Pinto-Walsh had been Mr. Kinkade’s personal assistant and had signed a confidentiality agreement as part of her employment. The Kinkade estate is claiming that because of this agreement Ms. Pinto-Walsh can only have the dispute heard before a private arbitrator in secret proceedings.
Ms. Pinto-Walsh is also claiming that Mr. Kinkade left behind a handwritten Will that leaves her $10 million as well as his private home. The handwritten Will, which consists of two almost illegible handwritten notes, also dictates that the $10 million would go to Ms. Pinto-Walsh in order for her to create a Thomas Kinkade Museum in the home.
Handwritten Wills are legal in California, though whether the court will accept the two notes as a handwritten Will is unclear. Several key questions surround the notes and their creation, though the court has set a July hearing to determine the validity of the Will.