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Kirtland & Seal, L.L.C.

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Legal woes surround serial killer’s estate

Most people who die behind bars after decades of incarceration have little to bequeath anybody.

However, notoriety often brings financial benefits — even to the infamous. Such is the case of the estate belonging to cult leader and serial killer Charles Manson.

A total of three different people (so far) are claiming the murder’s body and estate. The estate includes compensation for songs Manson wrote for Guns N’ Roses and other groups, art created by Manson, mementos he left behind, personal writings and something even far more valuable — the right to license out his name and likeness for biographies and television documentaries.

The winner of the contest over Manson’s estate could also potentially profit from avid collectors of items associated with famous crimes and killers. Simple items that belonged to a famous murderer can sometimes fetch hundreds of dollars on the open market, while works of art and letters can go for even more.

The three-way fight involves two wills, neither of which may be legitimate, a possible son, a possible grandson and a pen pal who claims that the will he holds is genuine and disinherits the others. One of the litigants also is seeking a DNA test to prove Manson’s paternity.

Right now, a California judge is trying to sort it out. However, there’s the possibility that the venue, or location of the trial over the estate, could change depending on the judge’s rulings.

Cases like this illustrate how important it is to have conversations with your relatives if you expect — or want — to inherit from them. While broaching the subject of someone’s eventual death isn’t really easy, it’s something that family members or friends should consider doing if their loved one is getting up there in years.

Otherwise, fights like this can break out and even the disposition of the deceased’s body can become uncertain. Manson’s body, for example, hasn’t been cremated nor buried — pending the outcome of the court cases.

Source:, “Judge aims to referee fight over Charles Manson’s remains,” Associated Press, Jan. 07, 2018