This case is an example of how open and above board communication about estate planning, especially in step-family situations, is so important, both to preserve relationships and to prevent litigation.
When Tony and Dan Thompson, sons of actor and former U.S. Senator Fred Thomson, did not receive answers to questions about legal work performed when their father was in hospice, they filed a lawsuit, claiming that their father’s wife and their step-mother influenced their father at the end of his life.
According to an article in The Tennessean, “Dispute over Sen. Fred Thompson's estate ends,” the sons were rebuffed when they asked questions about legal work that had led to $40,000 in attorney’s fees, including drafts of new estate plans and changes to beneficiaries.
Public statements and court documents show that the family fight arose from a bill a law firm filed against Thompson's estate. Recently, the Nashville probate judge ordered Jeri to deliver the documents that related to Thompson's assets and estate planning.
After seeing those documents, the boys had a change of heart and dismissed their suit.
They stated that they were satisfied that their father's final wishes were followed. They added that they were ready to move forward and were grateful that their dad finally had a tombstone. They hoped the executor would take care of the remaining obligations, so they could all move on.
Fred Thompson served Tennessee as a Republican in the United States Senate from 1994 to 2003. He also had a leading part on the television show "Law and Order."
Thompson passed away in November 2015 at the age of 73. He married Jeri in 2002. Tony and Dan Thompson are his children from a previous marriage.
Jeri Thompson's lawyer said that the legal battle was an unfounded embarrassment to the late senator and actor.
The sons dismissed their case in late March, according to court records.
Jeri Thompson’s lawyer defended his client, and told the court that the sons misread, intentionally or otherwise, descriptions in legal bills that should never have been filed with the court.
Reference: The Tennessean (April 3, 2017) “Dispute over Sen. Fred Thompson's estate ends”