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John Singleton's family fighting over $35 million estate

California readers may have heard that director John Singleton died of a stroke in Los Angeles on April 28. Apparently, he had an outdated will, which means there could be conflict over his estimated $35 million estate.

Singleton, who earned an Academy Award nomination for directing "Boyz n the Hood" in 1991, had seven children. However, when he drafted his will in 1993, he only had one son, and he never updated his estate plan to include his other six children when they were born. That means that his entire estate will go to his first-born son. In early May, the will was filed by his mother in a California probate court. Court records show she listed his assets at approximately $3.8 million, but his estate is believed to be worth at least an additional $31 million.

According to media reports, Singleton was an attentive father, but experts say his failure to add all his children to his will could cause major rifts within the family. For example, media outlets say that his children and mother began squabbling over his assets while he was in a coma in the days leading up to his death. One of his daughters claimed that her grandmother was trying to seize control of his estate and cut her and her siblings out. There is no indication that Singleton established any trust funds for his kids.

Individuals could help their families avoid estate-related conflict by drafting a will and keeping it updated. Events that may require a will to be updated include marriages, divorces, births, adoptions, deaths and changes in financial status. An attorney familiar with estate administration and probate laws may carefully review a client's situation and help create a will that meets his or her needs. If the will needs to be updated at any point in the future, legal counsel may be able to draft the necessary changes.

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