The unexpected death of comedy icon Robin Williams in 2014 set off an explosive battle over his $50 million estate. Williams tragically excluded his wife of 19 years, Susan Schneider, from his will, leaving her financially devastated. Now Schneider has opened up about the painful ordeal of being betrayed by her husband’s will and fighting his children just to retain her personal wedding gifts.
Susan Schneider Williams believed she and Robin had an unshakeable bond and ironclad estate planning. But after his sudden death, she learned a harsh reality – she was cut out from the $50 million estate. Left reeling, she then had to endure his children trying to claim even her most personal items.
A Devastating Betrayal
In an interview, Schneider described the painful realization that her husband had excluded her from his will. “I was still in shock. Three months after Robin’s death, I was still trying to figure out what had happened,” she said. Despite believing they had an ironclad trust, Schneider was left reeling financially.
Schneider said Robin’s decision to omit her from the will “felt like the most hurtful kind of betrayal.” She was left searching for answers on how the man she trusted most had left her so vulnerable.
“[The deal is] “basically what my husband wanted, which was just that I could live in the home until I die. And that’s it. That it would be taken care of.”
While Williams’ decision not to include his wife in the will remains a mystery, it became evident that the late comedian had made significant financial arrangements for his children, but nothing for his spouse.
Battling the Children in Court
To make matters worse, Williams’ children from earlier marriages challenged Schneider in court to try and seize the gifts she received on their wedding day. “Some of Robin’s kids were claiming that our wedding gifts belonged to them,” Schneider revealed. She ultimately prevailed in keeping her cherished items.
The court fight over her personal wedding gifts added immense insult to injury. Schneider was shattered to have to battle her stepchildren just to keep mementos from her marriage.
“I was forced into it, basically. And when I say that, here’s what happened. Two and a half weeks after Robin had left, I was still in shock. And not back in our home.”
“After being in the trenches with my husband for so long and trying to solve this thing, after seven years together in love, I was told that I might not be able to be able to keep our wedding gifts, that in fact, ‘While you’re out of the house … we need to come in and take everything out. ’Eventually once we’ve gone through it all, you can decide – tell us which items are yours. And we’ll decide whether or not that’s true.’”
As Susan Schneider Williams attempted to cope with the loss of her husband, she was faced with another distressing situation. The wedding gifts that she and Robin had received on their special day were now being contested by his children. It seemed that the children, who received a substantial share of their father’s estate, were determined to lay claim to the sentimental and cherished items from their father’s final union.
A Marriage Plagued by Secrets
In hindsight, Schneider feels Robin likely hid troubling issues during their marriage that led to her being cut from his will. Their apparently happy union was plagued by secrets that blew up only after his passing.
Schneider now believes Robin Williams struggled privately with serious problems that caused him to make the devastating decision to cut her out. She was left blindsided by the revelations about his inner turmoil that emerged later.
Susan Schneider Williams‘ painful experience exposes the turmoil that can engulf a family after the death of a wealthy celebrity. Even loving spouses can find themselves cruelly cut out in the cold. Schneider’s story serves as a caution for partners who assume wealth will transfer to them.