Talk show host Larry King died January 23, 2021 at the age of 87. King reportedly died from COVID-19, though some, including estranged wife Shawn King, have said sepsis was the actual cause of death, according to reporters with Entertainment Tonight. In addition to King’s longtime celebrity status, his death has made headlines due to estate plan issues. Prior to his passing, King executed a holographic (handwritten) will which excluded his soon-to-be ex-wife of 22 years from his $2 million estate.

Larry and Shawn King were married in 1997. Shawn was King’s seventh wife. The couple filed for divorce in August 2019. Two months later, King prepared the holographic will directing that 100% of his estate be divided equally among his five children. The holographic will made no mention of his estranged wife; the couple’s divorce had not yet been finalized at the time of his death.

Shawn King has reported that she believes someone pressured her husband to write it, according to a Page Six report, but did not elaborate. “We had a very watertight family estate plan,” she said in the Page Six article. “It still exists, and it is the legitimate will. Period. And I fully believe it will hold up.” She said they wrote the plan together in 2015.


The King estate proceedings are further complicated by the fact that the holographic will names two of King’s children that died last year. Son, Larry King Jr., has asked to be appointed the estate’s administrator, TMZ reported. Several sources have estimated Larry King’s net worth to be around $144 million. This figure includes various assets and holdings owned by Trusts created by King. His estate (meaning those things not held in trust) is estimated to be around $2 million.

King’s is not the only celebrity estate marred with issues related to lack of proper planning. The estates of Prince, Aretha Franklin, and countless other celebrities have been besieged with conflict and drama. Careful planning, with the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney, is the best way to avoid disaster after death.

While a holographic will is legally valid in Arizona, estate planning is not an area for DIYers. Celebrity or not, you should always work with an experienced attorney. Call us today at 480-922-1010 to schedule your complimentary estate planning consultation.

– Andrea Claus, Esq.