In November of 2009, best-selling author, screenwriter and movie producer, Michael Crichton, died at age 66. Crichton was best known for his “Jurassic Park” novel and “ER” television series. He also wrote the “Andromeda Strain,” “Congo,” and “Rising Sun.” Michael Crichton divorced four times and was married a fifth time at his death. He had several children, including John Michael Todd Crichton, born a few months after his death. Following his death, his widow, Sherri Crichton, sued his estate on their young son’s behalf.
According to the terms of Michael Crichton’s Will, his son wasn’t mentioned, and as such, is a pretermitted or omitted child. Sherri apparently signed a prenuptial agreement waiving her right to his estate. Sherri contested his will on their son’s behalf, but there was a shroud of mystery surrounding his will. Did the multi-million dollar author and producer intentionally disinherit his unborn son? After all, Sherri was well into her pregnancy at the time of his death, and he must have known of the pregnancy. There was much confusion and mystery surrounding his Will, partly because he was such a private person. The famous did not talk about his Will with many of his loved ones.
Although the estate battle involves many complicated legal issues, one of the main lessons from it is that you may be able to avoid lengthy and costly estate litigation by making sure you talk to your attorney about changing your Will to include any after-born children to avoid unintentionally disinheriting them.