Ian Workman killed his wife, Susan, mother of Ben and Nicholas, in April 2011, stabbing her in the heart with a large kitchen knife. The reason, it is claimed, was that she was in the process of divorcing the multi-millionaire car dealer, and the murder was committed in order to prevent Ian Workman from having to pay out in a large settlement. Susan would have been entitled to an equal share of everything.
For six years, Workman’s sons, and his sister-in-law, Carol Forrester, have battled the courts in order to obtain their share of the inheritance. Recently, three senior judges at the Court of Appeal agreed that the killer, who is currently serving life, would have to pay out just over £1.5 million, plus £500,000 costs.
Workman had originally refused to cooperate with the legal process. He had even forfeited the right to defend himself in court. On further investigation, it turned out that Workman had actually ‘voluntarily dissipated’ almost everything he owned to his eldest son, Grant.
This was seen to be an obstruction of justice, and did not do him any favours when it came to court. Ian Workman always claimed that he did not kill Susan for the money, but that instead it was done in self defence after she came at him during an argument. His sons, however, insist that their father should not profit from his crime – and the judges agreed.
Probate disputes can affect anyone, no matter whether they are a big Hollywood star or an unknown. When a famous person dies, it is often not just the family who goes into mourning, but the general public too. But who exactly are we mourning for? It’s the person we think the celebrity was that we’ll miss, not the celebrity themselves, and sometimes, when it comes to probate, the public get to know more about their idol than most would want to.
Some famous deaths have resulted in lengthy or bizarre probate disputes. Here are just a few of them.
When Gary Coleman died in 2010, he didn’t leave a huge estate. His home still had a mortgage on it, but there were some royalties that could be claimed. The problem was that Coleman is alleged to have left three different wills, and one of them included a handwritten codicil that said everything should be left to Shannon Price, Coleman’s ex-wife. However, since they were no longer married, a judge declared that Price could not inherit, and the money instead went to Anna Gray, Coleman’s business partner.
Jimi Hendrix may only have been 27 when he died in 1970, but his estate was worth $80 million. After the music legend’s death, his father took over the running of the estate after a protracted legal battle, but when he died in 2002 it all started up again. Most of the money was left to Al Hendrix’s daughter, Janie, and nothing was left to his son, Leon. Leon and his children started a lawsuit, as they felt that Janie had influenced Al, ensuring that they were left out of the will altogether. The trial took three months, and the judge found that the will was valid, and Al had not been influenced by anyone.
J. Howard Marshall II
The name J. Howard Marshal II may not be instantly familiar to everyone, but mention Anna Nicole Smith – his wife, who was 62 years younger than him – and immediately everyone knows who the man was. When he died in 1995, Marshall’s will came as a surprise to everyone; Anna Nicole and Marshall’s son, J. Howard Marshall III, were completely left out of the will. The entire estate, worth $1.6 billion, was left to Marshall’s stepson, E. Pierce Marshall. Although both Smith and J. Howard Marshall III contested the will and filed probate disputes, both died before a final ruling could be made.