No sooner had artist Thomas Kinkade died in April than his estate was embroiled in a legal fight over the release of information about the artist’s life. Now, a California probate court judge is considering whether the artist’s live-in girlfriend, Amy-Pinto Walsh, can have her day in court, or if she should submit her claims only in a secret arbitration hearing.
Ms. Pinto-Walsh had been living with Mr. Kinkade at the time of his death, having also served as his personal assistant. Mr. Kinkade and his wife, Nanette Kinkade, had been separated for some time. Ms. Pinto-Walsh is asking the probate court to nullify the terms of confidentiality agreement she signed as part of her position as personal assistant, which contains an arbitration clause.
The court will also hold a hearing to determine whether Mr. Kinkade’s last will and testament is legal. Ms. Pinto-Walsh claims that Mr. Kinkade wrote two hand-written notes before he died, directing that Ms. Pinto-Walsh should receive his home, along with $10 million to turn the home into a Kinkade museum. California is one of several states that allow for handwritten wills, also known as holographic wills. Representative’s of Mr. Kinkade’s company and Mrs. Kinkade are disputing the handwritten notes.
Ms. Pinto-Walsh is also seeking punitive damages from the Kinkade estate, saying that representatives ignored Mr. Kinkade’s power of attorney that named her attorney-in-fact, as well as giving her the right to make medical decisions on his behalf.
The Law Office of Michael Robinson, P.C. is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.