Robin Williams’s Widow and Children Agree to Mediation in Estate Fight

The legal battle between Robin Williams‘s widow and his children appears to be nearing a peaceful conclusion. Attorneys for Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider, and his three children from previous marriages, squared off in probate court in San Francisco on Monday and agreed to private mediation, hoping to settle a dispute regarding the contents of his estate. Schneider and Williams’s children — Zachary, Zelda and Cody — have disagreed over who can claim certain the contents of the couple’s Tiburon, California, home.

Williams’s will entitles his children to clothing, jewelry, personal photos taken prior to his marriage to Schneider, as well as awards, memorabilia and tangible personal property from his home, where he was found dead last August. Schneider argues that Williams’s will entitles her to certain items, such as his watches and other personal effects.

During the hearing, which lasted less than 40 minutes, both sides agreed to meet informally in the next two weeks to arrange a pick-up of various items at the Williams’s home and to have a private mediation before late April.

Both Schneider and the children were eager to end the stand-off and to keep their personal information out of the public spotlight.

Andrew Bassak, attorney for Williams’s children, told PEOPLE after the court hearing, “We didn’t want any publicity.” Jim Wagstaffe, Schneider’s attorney agreed, saying, “The trustees and the children do not want this to become public. We are interested in getting it resolved as quickly as possible.”

“I think we can have all the undisputed items picked up in the next two weeks,” Wagstaffe said, adding, “We could probably do it as early as today.”

He claimed, “[Schneider and the children] will meet in good faith within the next two weeks,” and said “a large percentage of these items are not disputed.”

Wagstaffe told the court that his client would like to keep her wedding presents, the tux Williams wore to the wedding and photographs from his 60th birthday in 2011.

However, Bassak appeared less optimistic that the dispute could be settled so quickly.

“I don’t know and I can’t speculate,” Bassak told PEOPLE when asked if he agreed with Wagstaffe’s timeline, adding, “There is still a lot to be worked out.”


By Michael Miller,
March, 2015


Connie Theron, Practising Attorney - UCT Law Clinic
“While working at the University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic and later at the UCT Law Clinic, I found the pro bono mediation services of Gerrie van der Watt of the Mediation Centre to be highly professional and extremely effective in our divorce matters. It is fantastic that our clients, with little or no financial means, can benefit from such an excellent programme.

The mediators are able to provide a non-threatening environment in which the clients are able to talk openly about issues that matter most to them, but which the Court in a divorce matter may choose not to entertain. Through the mediation sessions, the clients are able to reach an agreement together which ultimately they are both happy with. In cases where mediation did not yield the result of a settlement, the process was still extremely valuable, giving the parties better perspective and highlighting the key issues in dispute.”