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Months after his death, actor's daughter lives in legal limbo

Paul Walker and the mother of his now 15-year-old daughter were never married. Various news outlets reported that Walker was a devoted father, but only came to that recently. His daughter grew up with her mother, far away from the actor, though news outlets suggested they shared custody. A couple of years ago, though, she left her mother's care and moved in with her father.

When Walker died in November 2013, he did leave a will. His will named his father as executor of his estate and left the entirety of the estate to his daughter. The probate court in his home state -- he neither lived nor died in Texas -- has appointed Walker's father to be executor, but almost four months after his death, his daughter's future is still uncertain.

At 15, the girl stands to inherit more than $10 million, a hefty burden for any 15-year-old. The question of who will help her manage her finances, and her life, was addressed in Walker's will. What he did, however, was surprising to outsiders.

Walker directed that his mother be the girl's guardian. The catch, however, is that the girl's mother is still living and, as far as the news reports go, has not given up her parental rights. It is not clear whether the woman has legal custody of the girl.

Walker's mother filed a petition with the probate court this week, asking to be appointed guardian of the teen's person and estate. E! News reported that the petition stated that Walker's mother had raised four children herself, among other qualifications. The petition also stated that the teen had been living with her since Walker's death.

What was surprising about the petition were the revelation that the girl's mother also lived with Walker's mother and the flat statement that the woman has "a drinking problem." She apparently has a couple of drunk driving arrests in her past.

Whatever happens in this case, it serves as an important reminder to the rest of us. More and more, unmarried couples are having children. It is especially important in those situations for the parents to work together to develop clear estate plans that detail who will take charge of the children and the children's inheritances if one parent dies.

Source: E! News, "Paul Walker Daughter Drama: Actor's Mother Petitions for Guardianship, Alleges Meadow Walker's Mom Has a Drinking Problem," Natalie Finn, March 19, 2014 

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