Simpson’s co-creator Sam Simon died on March 8th, 2015 of colon cancer. When the 59 year old Hollywood legacy passed away, his net worth was estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite the fact that Mr. Simon diligently set up a complete estate plan, he made several promises before his death that were not mentioned in his will or trust. The most recent lawsuit has been filed by his girlfriend, celebrity makeup artist Kate Porter. Ms. Porter claims that Mr. Simon made repeated promises to her that she “would not have to struggle financially or worry about her future.”
Kate is currently suing his estate for $5 million, tax free, for multiple offences, including breach of oral contract and violation of oral contract to make a will. If you’re not familiar with Probate law, you might erroneously believe that verbal promises carry little weight in the legal world. In fact, if there is significant evidence to prove an oral contract existed, they are just as enforceable as written contracts.
In Kate’s lawsuit, she claims she cut back on her work at Simon’s request and was eventually discharged from her job. According to her attorney, Mr. Simon told her “not to worry about replacing her regular employment” and that he would “financially take care of her.” If Ms. Porter is to be successful with her lawsuit, she must prove that Simon intended to financially provide for her even after his death. His estate plan made no mention of her whatsoever. Was this just an oversight? Kate’s attorney must prove that it was.
Kate Porter’s lawsuit is not the first to tarnish the financial legacy of Sam Simon. The wealthy Emmy winner bequeathed his rescue dog to Hollywod dog trainer Tyson Kilmer, but failed to make arrangements for the financial costs borne by the animal. According to Kilmer, Simon had promised to provide for the dog, which has extensive medical needs. Animal organizations PETA and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society also claim Simon had intended for his charitable donations to continue beyond his death. Neither was provided for in his will or trust, however.
As an Emmy winner and the co-creator of beloved animated series The Simpsons, Sam Simon’s creative legacy is considered genius by Hollywood standards — but, not even a year after his death, his financial legacy is mired in controversy.
“Those entrusted with overseeing the Estate of Samuel Simon, and carrying out his last wishes, are in fact betraying that trust and refusing to honor the commitments made before he passed away,” Porter’s attorney Bryan J. Freedman writes in the complaint filed Thursday.
Simon’s trust promises that his eponymous charitable-giving foundation will eventually “direct a substantial amount to organizations that protect and save animals from cruelty and mistreatment, along with other causes.”