When he died, famed attorney John O’Quinn was described by the Los Angeles Times as flamboyant and wildly successful in the courtroom and negotiations. He made millions for himself as he pulled in billions in settlements and verdicts for his clients in cases against tobacco companies, diet drug makers and breast implant manufacturers.

Seven years after his death, his family and his common-law wife are in a long-running dispute over where the legendary lawyer should be buried and who should spend eternity next to him.

For more than 10 years prior to O’Quinn’s death, Darla Lexington had been his constant companion. She had been by his side at lavish parties and when he attended auctions in his search for collectible cars.

She was to be by his side after death, too. The legal paperwork the lawyer left behind made it clear that Lexington was to be buried with him in a mausoleum on his beloved ranch. A space next to him was reserved for her, according to a recent news article.

Two years ago, however, his family had his body removed from the mausoleum and reinterred in a family plot in Louisiana. Lexington’s attorney said he isn’t sure why the move was made, but speculates that “it may have been a combination of arrogance, of greed, of plain old human spite.”

O’Quinn’s cousin, Carol O’Quinn, says “I wanted to do what was best for the O’Quinn family, and we were worried that Darla might cause a ruckus.”

The family further believes that Lexington “was nothing but a live-in girlfriend.”

We do not know how this dispute will be resolved, but we do know that careful estate planning can help prevent these kinds of feuds and help to ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you intend.

Please contact The Law Office of Matthew C. Yu for information about how a skilled estate planning attorney can help you.