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Luciano Pavarotti's Contested Wills

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By Author: Rayford Marks
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Superstar tenor Luciano Pavarotti's children contested a Will he made following revelations that he bequeathed his £12 million American estate to his second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani.

Pavarotti, who died on September 6, 2007 in Modena, Italy of pancreatic cancer aged 71, reportedly left two Wills. The first divided his assets (valued at around £250 million) between his wife and his three daughters, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana (from his first marriage to Adua Veroni), with the remained being distributed at the discretion of the Executor.

Allegations swirled around t the time that Ms Mantovani had restricted access to her husband during his last illness and taken advantage of his debilitated mental state to alter his Will in her favour.

It later emerged that the second Will which dealt with Pavarotti's American assets (including three apartments in New York City overlooking Central Park, bank accounts and valuable artworks), established a trust in his wife's sole name.

Fabrizio Corsini, the lawyer representing Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana was quoted at the time as saying “We are ...
... not at all happy with this will and are contesting it.”. He said that the trust had been drawn up with various documents that had been sent from America during the last few weeks of Pavarotti's life and that they were signed in his villa on the outskirts of Modena where he died.

However, a third Will later emerged - released by lawyer Silvio Vezzi - That was apparently made in December 2006, less than a year before the singer's death. This third Will was written by hand rather than being dictated to lawyers as subsequent wills were. Sources close to the daughters were quoted as saying that this third Will “represented Luciano Pavarotti's true desire”.

The third Will split Pavarotti's estate between his second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani and his three daughters from his first marriage, Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana as well as his daughter from his second marriage, Alice.

Generally, any subsequent Will would supersede any Wills made previously; however in this case the crux of the claimants' case focused on the fact that the earlier Will was made in Pavarotti's own hand rather than being dictated to his lawyers as the subsequent two were and in the daughter's opinions represented their father's true intentions.

The waters were further muddied when friends of Pavarotti reportedly said that his second wife, Mantovani had become “obsessed with money” and also speculated that Pavarotti had been close to splitting from her prior to his death after their four years of marriage.

All these revelations raised the possibility that the first Will could also be contested, particularly as his first wife, Adua Veroni, who was married to Pavarotti for more than 35 years before his affair with the woman who would become his second wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, and the mother of his three children was bequeathed nothing despite a recent reconciliation with Luciano. Pavarotti divorced Adua in 1996 and reportedly gave her a generous settlement in doing so in order to reflect the fact that she had been his business manager as his singing career propelled him to wealth and fame. His second wife had been his secretary and was 34 years his junior when they married in 2004.

Nicoletta's lawyer, Giorgio Bernini reportedly denied that there was anything unusual with the Will ,saying “It was all carried out in the full light of day and with the knowledge of Luciano Pavarotti… There is nothing underhand going on and nothing is being taken away from anyone… Nicoletta is merely looking after the American estate and if Mr Corsini wants to contest it then that is up to him… If he wishes to take the matter to court then so be it but everything has been done above board.”

The saga finally drew to a conclusion when Nicoletta reached an amicable agreement with Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana. Apparently the main change involved Nicoletta's decision to forfeit ownership of Pavarotti's property in Pesaro, Italy in favour of Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana.

Ms Mantovani later revealed in a television interview at an awards ceremony on the Italian island of Ischia that she had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for the past 13 years and revealed her plans to make a film about his life. She was at the ceremony to present an award to Trudie Styler, the wife of Sting and was quoted as saying “These last few months have been poisoned by stupid controversy… The more time passed the more we realised that Luciano would not have wanted any of this eternal fighting… In the end we did what my husband wanted and so that's what we did in his honour, we found an agreement and we divided the inheritance happily.”

Going Legal Limited has been established for over 20 years, during which time we have been successful in recovering many millions of pounds for our clients. Unlike other firms we welcome complex and difficult cases and specialise in contesting Wills via Probate Solicitors, No-Win, No-Fee.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Going Legal Limited unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute legal or any other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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