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The Fight Over Dennis Hopper's Estate - The Importance of Detailed Planning

The fight for Dennis Hopper's $40 million estate is in full swing and started, many noted, before the actor was even buried. The probate battle centers on Hopper's eldest daughter, Marin, and his estranged wife, Victoria Duffy. Galen Hopper, the actor's seven-year-old daughter will likely be a focal point of Duffy's argument for a share of the property.

It is a sad situation, all around, with accusations flying from both camps. In the original prenuptial agreement signed by Hopper and Duffy, she was to receive 25 percent of the actor's estate provided that she was both married to and living with him at the time of his death.

Just months before he died, Hopper attempted to gain a divorce from his wife of 14-years, essentially cutting her out of the will from his deathbed. The move was strongly supported by Marin Hopper, who at 47 is five years the senior her father's wife.

Many have questioned Marin's motives and whether or not she may have contributed to her father's request for a divorce. The probate battle is a sad reminder of the need for a comprehensive and clear estate plan.

Because of the longstanding animosity between Hopper's daughter and his wife, it seems the actor would have done well to retain a probate attorney or trusted, and neutral, friend to oversee his estate. While Hopper did leave a will, the haziness surrounding the actor's final months is as much a product of the conflicting stories coming from those closest to him as any uncertainty in legal documents.

Few things have the ability to tear a family apart faster than an ill-defined will, or no will at all. Making an estate plan is essential for both your peace of mind and that of your loved ones.

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