Larry King’s widow has gone to court to challenge a handwritten will which purports to divide the talk show host’s estate among his children.
Shawn Southwick King argues that her husband had “questionable mental capacity” at the time the will was signed, just two months after he filed for divorce. According to her lawyers, King had just suffered a stroke and was susceptible to “outside influences.”
King died on Jan. 23 at the age of 87. He was survived by Shawn and their two children, Cannon and Chance, as well as by Larry King Jr., a son from a previous relationship. At the time of his death, the divorce had not been finalized.
In a petition filed on Feb. 10, Larry Jr., submitted the handwritten will, dated Oct. 17, 2019, which states that King wanted “100% of my funds to be divided equally among my children.”
At the time, King had five children. Two of them — Chaia and Andy — died weeks apart in 2020.
In her filing on Tuesday, Shawn argues that the handwritten will has “no legal effect whatsoever.” She states that it conflicts with the will he signed in 2015, in which she was named executor of the estate. She was also made the sole trustee of the King Family Trust, which appears to hold the bulk of her husband’s assets.
She also accuses her stepson of exerting undue influence over his father in his waning years. She claims that she recently discovered a “secret account,” from which King gave his son more than $260,000. She contends that those were improper gifts of community property, and suggests she may try to recoup some or all of it.
In his petition, Larry Jr. argued that his father and Shawn were no longer together at the time of his death. Their house had been sold, and they were living separately.
But Shawn’s attorneys contend that King had allowed the divorce petition to languish, and that the couple still could have reconciled.
“After the filing, the parties had gone to counseling, were still speaking, and reconciliation remained possible until Larry’s health conditions made that impractical,” her filing states.
Larry Jr. asked the court to appoint him a special administrator of the estate. He also said that new officers needed to be appointed for his father’s companies: Larry King Enterprises and LK Productions. He said that someone needed to pay various bills, and that King’s assistant and health care aides had gone unpaid. He also asserted that King’s likeness was being infringed by online marketers, and that action was needed to stop it.
Shawn countered on Tuesday that the companies are loan-out companies, which are no longer have active business due to her husband’s death. She also states they are part of the trust that she controls.
According to Shawn’s filing, King split from Larry Jr.’s mother before Larry Jr. was born. She states that King had never met his son until the latter was well into his 30s, and that he had previously been unaware of Larry Jr.’s existence.
“Petitioner has never been involved in Larry’s career or business, and it would be highly inappropriate to place him in a position of representing Larry’s estate,” her filing states.
A hearing has been tentatively set for Feb. 24 in Los Angeles County probate court.