Only one out of 10 wills is ever contested, but the odds of a fight increase dramatically as the net worth of the deceased does. It’s when the rich and famous are laid to rest, sometimes even before, that the monkey business begins. Families are torn apart, reputations are forever sullied and, regardless of the outcome, estate lawyers reap generous rewards. Even the most carefully crafted will is not guaranteed to head off greedy would-be benefactors. “A play is never finished,” American playwright Tony Kushner once wrote. “You’ll find out how much I mean that when you read my last will and testament.”

Here are our top 10 will contests and estate battles.

10. Ted Williams

Value of estate: N/A

Contested: Williams’s remains

Feuding parties: Three children

Still Planning His Comeback

Ted Williams’s last will says he wanted to be cremated and his ashes scattered at his favorite Florida Keys fishing spot. But his son and daughter from his third marriage presented a signed note on a scrap of paper, saying the baseball legend wanted his body to be frozen in the event one day science could bring him back to life. His daughter from his first marriage vigorously fought to have her father cremated, but eventually withdrew her lawsuit when a judge agreed that a $645,000 trust would be distributed equally among Williams’s three children. Today, his body and severed head remain in frozen vessels in Arizona.


9. Leona Helmsley

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