Former basketball player Lamar Odon has been all over the news following his collapse in a Nevada brothel, with news networks reporting minute by minute updates on his health status. While it’s understandable that the lurid nature of the story is what has captured the public’s attention, the deeper legal picture is equally as interesting. On All Things Legal, Craig Ashton and the rest of the crew discussed a largely overlooked legal aspect regarding former basketball player Lamar Odom’s inheritance.

Lamar Odom (right), during a 2010 NBA game. Image courtesy of Keith Allison (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

Lamar Odom (right), during a 2010 NBA game. Image courtesy of Keith Allison (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

The Background on the Lamar Odom Situation

On October 13th, former Lakers basketball player Lamar Odom was found unconscious in a Nevada brothel. He was rushed to a hospital in Las Vegas, where he remains in critical condition. Due to his continued lack of consciousness, as well as signs of multiple organ failure, his prognosis is poor.

But rather than focusing on Odon’s medical concerns, All Things Legal took a closer look at Odon’s legal situation, and how that may affect his family.

The All Things Legal Team’s Breakdown of the Legal Picture

“Khloe Kardashian, who is one of the Kardashian sisters, was married to Lamar Odom [and] filed for divorce in 2013, [but] there is no order yet, so the divorce has not been finalized and granted. And so this creates an issue, because it turns out he may not have a will, and if he doesn’t have a will, then through the laws of intestate succession, she is going to be entitled to a third of his separate property, even though they’re about ready to get divorced. And then also the community property, through the marriage… it’s going to take away from his two little kids… Destiny and Lamar Jr, and then his father may have been somebody that could have inherited if he would have had a will.

“But if he doesn’t, this woman, who he hasn’t been with for two years, who was dating other rappers and on TV… she may get millions and millions out of this because there was not a simple document to say, “Look, if I pass, all of my separate property that I brought into this marriage well before [we married]—because that’s when I made all of my millions as a basketball player—goes to my kids, goes to whoever.” And in this case, it may not be the fact and so Khloe Kardashian could get millions and millions of dollars more, even though she wasn’t with Lamar Odom at the time, and also it looks like she’s making his medical decisions for him. Because technically, they’re still married, even though they filed for divorce in 2013.”

The group speculated about what mitigating factors could exist, which led Craig to point out, “There could have been a marital settlement agreement that was attached to the divorce paper, and that’s a contract, and that would basically determine where the money’s going. But if that wasn’t done, and he dies without a will, technically under the probate code, Khloe Kardashian could get millions out of this.”

The Lesson: Always Write a Will

The complexity of this situation should make it clear that everyone should take the time to make out a will. Earlier, Craig pointed out that in California, writing a binding will is especially easy: “It’s not very difficult to do in California. You just need to basically write down what your wishes are, and sign it, and have two witnesses and that’s all you need.”

Ed Schade then pointed out that the process can be even simpler than that: “You don’t even need that. California recognizes holographic wills.” A holographic will is simply a handwritten document that isn’t necessarily witnessed by anyone at the time of writing. Ed went on, “As long as it’s in your own hand, dated, with your intent. They’ve found them on the bottom of drawers in kitchens and they’ve [been found valid].”

The takeaway from the discussion of the unfortunate Lamar Odom situation is that everyone who is in control of their own assets should take the time to write a will. It’s best if you go through the formal legal process of creating a will. But as Ed Schade pointed out, you don’t have to do that in California. If nothing else, take the time to sit down and write out your wishes, sign and date it, and if possible, have two witnesses sign it as well. Wills are an absolute necessity when it comes to ensuring the wellbeing of family members and loved ones.