When popular artist Thomas Kinkade died earlier this year, his estate wasted no time in going to court. Days after his death, the estate was already in court seeking a restraining order against Ms. Amy Pinto Walsh, Mr. Kinkade’s live-in girlfriend at the time of his death. Though that restraining order has since expired, the two sides are once again back in court, this time fighting over whether a California probate court can hear the dispute or if it should be heard in front of private arbitrators.
Ms. Pinto Walsh was living with Mr. Kinkade at the time of his death and had served as his personal assistant. As part of her employment she had signed a confidentiality agreement that required her to bring any legal disputes to a private arbitrator instead of in open court. She is now challenging that agreement and asking a California probate court to declare it void.
The Kinkade estate, along with Mrs. Kinkade, is asking the court to require Pinto Walsh to comply with the arbitration clause.
Also at issue is whether the handwritten notes that Mr. Kinkade apparently left before his death constitutes a valid Will. Handwritten Wills, also known as holographic Wills, are legally allowable in California and some other states. The notes left behind by Mr. Kinkade are barely legible, and the court has set a July hearing date to determine if they constitute a valid holographic Will.