The infamous mass murderer Charles Manson died on November 19, 2017 at the age of 83. It would be logical to assume that there wouldn’t be a lot of folks lining up to lay claim to his horrific legacy. In fact, there are a total of four people involved in a muddled estate contest, and it started with the right to dispose of Manson’s body. His remains sat on ice in Kern County under the supervision of the coroner for months after his passing while the matter was being sorted out by the court.
There were three different parties attempting to obtain the right to Charles Manson’s body. One of them was a longtime pen pal named Michael Channels who eventually met Manson in prison in 2002. He is purportedly named in a Will that was created and signed by Manson that made Channels executor and sole heir with the right to the remains.
The second person in the fray was Jason Freeman, who says he is Manson’s grandson. He is also in possession of a will that was allegedly signed by Manson. Michael Brunner, who claims to be the son of the deceased mass murderer, was the third party. Brunner has no will to produce and he contends that Charles Manson never had a last Will.
On March 13 it was reported that Kern County Superior Court Commissioner Alisa Knight passed down a ruling giving Jason Freeman possession of the body. As rationale, she stated that the Will Channels produced was invalid, partially because the witness signed the document days prior to the execution of the will. Plus, there was one witness, and there should have been two under California laws.
She went on to add that this Will made no mention of the remains, so even if it was valid, it wouldn’t support Channels’ contention. Brunner’s claim was flatly rejected because his maternal grandparents adopted him, so in the eyes of the law, he is not the son of Charles Manson.
This portion of the case is settled, but there are still inheritance questions, and there is another player involved. This individual, Matthew Lentz, is convinced that Charles Manson was his biological father. He has filed a will as well, and he contends that it has been signed by Manson. A ruling should be handed down soon, and we will certainly pass that information along when it becomes available.
The takeaway from this is the simple fact that estate planning is something that should be done with the benefit of the appropriate legal guidance. It is likely that Charles Manson had some clearly definable final wishes, but no one will ever know exactly what they were. If he had taken the time to consult with an estate planning attorney, the appropriate documents would have been filed in a legally binding manner. As a result, the battle over his body and estate would have been avoided.
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