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Estate battle looms over Manson's body, property rights

Most people who die in prison don't leave much of an estate to fight over -- but Charles Manson wasn't like most people.

The erstwhile cult leader is still a fascinating subject of history books and documentaries -- and his body, personal items, intellectual property, likeness and name are at the core of a three-way estate battle that is likely to be fierce.

The litigants are an allegedly adopted son, a man who claims to be his biological son and a former pen pal of his who claims he's Manson's legal heir. There are two wills in existence, neither of which have been validated by the court as of yet.

One of the wills lists the former pen pal as Manson's sole heir and executor. The other will lists another possible son as his only heir, but that son hasn't filed a claim in court regarding the estate as of this time. The son who has stepped forward to claim the estate alleges that awarding Manson's estate to the pen pal would go against the Manson's wishes because the pen pal has previously sold items belonging to Manson to "murderabilia" collectors. All the other heirs claim that Manson would have wanted to end the sensationalism and have his body given a dignified, private burial.

Meanwhile, the morgue where Manson's body is interred is anxious to have the issue decided -- they don't have room for long-term storage.

Estate battles involving celebrities -- which Manson was, if for all the wrong reasons -- are common. Disputes are also common among noncelebrities, however, when they leave behind multiple wills with different heirs.

If you find yourself in a position where you wish to change the nature of your will drastically, it's important to take steps to establish your new will clearly. A clause revoking all previous wills or codicils in writing -- usually at the beginning of the new will -- can help avoid problems with your probate and estate.

Source: Fox News, "Charles Manson's body still in morgue as legal battle between heirs heats up," Travis Fedschun, Jan. 31, 2018

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