When closing out a loved one’s estate in New Jersey or elsewhere proves to be a difficult and drawn-out process due to litigation, it can get expensive. When this happens, the money to cover estate litigation can come straight from the estate. Unfortunately, this means some assets may need to be sold to cover legal fees — which can create issues as well, as seen in the Robert Indiana estate case.
Robert Indiana, the famous artist, died in May 2018. Before his death, his business manager filed a lawsuit in federal court against the artist’s publisher and caretaker, accusing them both of isolating Indiana and selling fake Robert Indiana pieces for financial gain. Litigation on this matter and others have continued since the artist’s death. The executor of the estate claims that money is needed to continue fighting the legal claims in court, and as such he would like to auction two pieces of artwork from Indiana’s private collection.
The two pieces, which are set to be auctioned at Christie’s on Nov. 16, have a combined value of around $4 million. A number of people believe the pieces should not be sold. Instead, they should be kept as part of the estate as they show insight into Indiana’s life. However, the executor claims that, on top of litigation fees, money is needed to fix the artist’s home so that it can be turned into a museum — as Indiana wanted, according to his estate plan.
There is a lot at play in this case. Executor actions are not always popular and those who disagree with them certainly have the right to contest them in court. Estate litigation can get expensive, though, and money from the estate, not the personal funds of beneficiaries, should be used to cover the cost. Legal counsel can help those working through probate in New Jersey and who find themselves tied up in estate litigation resolve the matter as quickly as possible and find ways to cover the legal fees without doing too much damage to the estate.