Longtime daytime drama star Kristoff St. John passed away on Feb. 3. St. John played Neil Winters for nearly 30 years on CBS Television’s The Young and the Restless.
The 52-year-old actor’s estate planning efforts are coming apart at the seams, according to several reports. Lawsuits and counter suits. Creditor claims, ex-spouses, and family disagreements. It’s all sadder than any of the melodramatic storylines St. John portrayed on the show.
The enormous stress and confusion his survivors are feeling today could likely have been eliminated if the actor had hired an experienced estate planning attorney to draft and file a will or create a trust to protect assets for his loved ones.
In March, the actor’s oldest daughter, Paris, filed to be named administrator over his estate, citing he died without a will.
Within days, St. John’s father, Christopher St. John, submitted a handwritten will to a probate court that called for him to be named as executor and for all monies to be divided among the actor’s two daughters, Lola and Paris, with a split of 75 and 25 percent.
The late actor’s first ex-wife, Mia St. John, who is Paris’ mother, has stated she is the sole beneficiary of his life insurance policy.
Paris filed an objection to the handwritten will submitted by her grandfather.
In response to her objection, on April 22, the actor’s father submitted a text message between the actor and his girlfriend at the time, in which St. John wrote:
“I’ve been up all night. I drafted a hand written [sic] will, just in case. Leaving Lola and Paris my savings. I’ve also left you something. In my nightstand, top drawer, in the notebook, I left two checks. I made them out to you. You are to deposit these checks accordingly. Just in case.”
The judge involved appears to be directing the family to unite by recently naming Paris and her grandfather as special co-administrators “for the limited purposes” of selling a condominium the actor owned, and to manage the assets inside that dwelling and a rental unit where St. John resided.
The court case may take months to unravel, and in the meantime, St. John’s family may see his few remaining assets eaten up by court costs and legal fees.
Creditors are already coming out of the woodwork filing claims on the estate, including American Express, which is suing over an unpaid credit card bill of more than $33,000.
The lessons for all of us regarding this family’s drama are many, but the strongest lesson is this: don’t forgo proper planning! It will save your family from the added months of grief and frustration that the St. John family is facing now, and it will protect your assets for your loved ones!