A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge denied this morning a request by attorneys representing the estate of the late American painter Thomas Kinkade to have probate matters related to wills his girlfriend says he left kept private.
Judge Thomas Cain denied Windermere Holdings, LLC's attorneys ex-parte application to compel binding arbitration on the dispute related to the wills and Kinkade's assets estimated at more than $66 million, which attorneys representing Amy Pinto-Walsh contend were left to her.
A hearing on the probate petition has now been scheduled for Aug. 13, said Pinto-Walsh's attorney Brian M. Affrunti.
Attorneys Daniel Casas and Anthony Basile appeared on behalf of Kinkade's estate, which include the painter's widow, Nanette Kinkade, his co-trustee Kenneth Raasch and Windermere Holdings, LLC.
"We had petitioned the court to admit the wills to probate and to appoint Amy Pinto-Walsh as administrator," explained Affrunti. "We wanted the probate administration to be decided in open court."
The Kinkade estate was trying to have the matter heard by a closed-door binding arbitration panel outside of the courtroom. Affrunti said Judge Cain's ruling was good news for his client.
In a written statement, Kathleen Blomquist, vice president of Rubenstein Associates, a spokeswoman for the Kinkade estate, said, “The estate’s trustees are obligated to make every effort to ensure that Thom’s wishes are carried out, including protecting the privacy of his family by having this probate matter addressed in arbitration. Regardless of today’s procedural decision about a public or private forum, the underlying facts remain the same. Thom and Nanette Kinkade had a formal estate plan in place at the time of his passing, and these purported holographs are not credible.”
The wills, dated Nov. 18, 2011 and Dec. 11, 2011, give Pinto-Walsh an opulent mansion in Monte Sereno next to Los Gatos, a next-door studio, $10 million to run a museum showcasing his original artwork and his entire art collection said to be worth $66 million. Pinto-Walsh's attorneys filed both disputed wills with the Santa Clara County Superior Court probate division on May 24.
A judge ordered on June 15 that a binding arbitration panel would privately hear Pinto-Walsh's claims about another matter related his estate's alleged violation of a .
Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Leslie C. Nichols ruled the validity of a will not be litigated in open court but heard in a private binding arbitration proceeding.