Salvadore Dali died in 1989, yet an estate battle has suddenly erupted involving a potential child from an extra-marital relationship.
Recently, a judge has decided that Salvador Dali’s body will be exhumed in order to assist in settling a paternity suit that involves the estate, despite Dali having passed away in 1989. A woman named Pilar Abel, who was born in 1956, claims that she is the child of Dali after he had an affair with her mother.
At the time of the affair, Dali was married to a woman named Gala, who had one child before the marriage. Dali and Gala had no children, and he left his entire estate to the Spanish state. As there is no way to determine if Abel is actually Dali’s daughter, the DNA of Dali must be examined in order to make a decision. Abel wants the results of the test in order to pursue legal action so that she may be able to inherit some of Dali’s estate.
The Spanish state is currently planning to appeal the judge’s decision, but the process may not immediately stop the exhuming of Dali’s body. The Gala Dali Foundation has stated that Abel’s claims are not solid evidence to allow the exhuming of his body.
Officials said that the artist’s mummified remains were so well conserved that even his famous mustache had survived the passing of time and remained in “its classic shape of ten past ten,” referring to the positions of the hands on a clock.
According to judicial authorities, only five people —a judge, three coroners and an assistant— were allowed to oversee the removal of the samples out of respect for the remains and in order to avoid any contamination.
If proved right, she could claim one fourth of the painter’s estate which is now in the hands of a public foundation, according to her lawyer Enrique Blanquez. There are no current estimates of the value of that fortune.
If she is proved wrong, the Dali foundation will seek financial compensation for the costs of the exhumation.
Either way, minimizing the disruption to the museum’s operations and to the rest of Dali’s remains is the priority for the foundation managing Dali’s estate.
An Estate Battle Closer To Home
This case is unique as it is very unusual for someone’s dead body to be genetically tested for paternity as part of an estate battle. Yet an estate battle over a parent’s will is not unusual.
A case in 2014 involved two estranged daughters who placed a claim on their father’s estate. They had not regularly remained in contact since he had divorced from their mother, however the court ruled that they had a successful claim.
Their father had left 85% of his estate to one son and 15% to another son, leaving nothing for his daughters. In his will he explained that he did not feel he owed them money as he had assisted them financially previously and had not remained in contact with his daughters. He also argued that both daughters, aged in their early fifties, had modest financial circumstances in that they were both working and expending most of their income on living expenses and therefore didn’t require an inheritance.
The brother who stood to inherit the most argued that he had assisted in running the family business and had financially contributed to the assets his father now had in his estate. He had also been involved in his father’s life as he neared death.
Despite this, the sisters were both awarded approximately $450,000 from the estate as the judge ruled that they emotionally retreated due to the divorce and the lack of communication between the parties had been accidental. After an appeal, the inheritance for the sisters was reduced to $390,000. The case was very long and complex but is an example of how an estate battle can arise even if you make your wishes clear in your will.
In each of the states of Australia, the law casts an obligation upon a will maker to make adequate provision for certain persons. The definition of ‘certain persons’ differs from state to state. In Queensland, a will maker ought to make adequate provision for the following persons:
· Former spouse (in limited circumstances);
· A dependent (in limited circumstances).
It is at the discretion of the court as to whether or not family provision claims are successful. Not every applicant will be successful and not every applicant is eligible. The key is to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
If you need help with drafting a will or if you think you’ve been left out of a will, contact our friendly, experienced lawyers today.