Larry King was born Lawrence Harvey Zeiger in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, in an observant Jewish household. Following the death of his father Edward at 44, Larry worked to support his mother for several years after graduating high school.
Moving to Florida in his early twenties to work on radio, he was asked to fill in on air at short notice; the radio general manager told him to change his last name to something “less ethnic”, after seeing a newspaper ad for King’s Wholesale Liquor, Lawrence Zeiger became Larry King.
Building his career in local radio during the 1950s and 1960s, by 1978 Larry hosted The Larry King Show, a syndicated late-night radio show; originally aired in 28 cities, within five years, it had spread to 118 cities. In 1985 he launched Larry King Live on CNN.
King hosted Larry King Live on CNN for over 25 years, retiring in 2010 after taping more than 6,000 episodes of the show.Throughout its time on air, the show was routinely CNN’s most-watched program, with Larry arguably being the network’s biggest star.
King died on January 23, 2021, at the age of 87 in Los Angeles, California; with an estate estimated at around $2 million. He had married eight times to seven women and had five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
King and his seventh wife, Shawn, were married for 22 years. In August 2019, Larry King filed for divorce; agreeing that he would pay $33,000 per month in interim spousal support before their divorce hearing on April 29, 2021.
In October 2019 King left the following handwritten letter:
This is my Last Will & Testament. It should replace all previous writings. In the event of my death, any day after the above date I want 100% of my funds to be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Lary Jr Chance & Cannon.
In July 2020 Chaia died from lung cancer; Andy died from a heart attack in August 2020.
King’s son, Larry Jr argues that his father’s handwritten note constitutes a “holographic will,” the terms of which should be followed. Additionally, as Shawn and his father were involved in a pending divorce proceeding at the time of his father’s death he should be appointed administrator.
Shawn says that Larry had made a formal will in 2015, naming her the executor of the estate. She was surprised to learn Larry had secretly updated his will — in a handwritten document, two months after filing for divorce.
Shawn submitted that the document was an “ineffective codicil” with no legal significance. Additionally, King had reduced mental capacity as he had suffered a stroke and was susceptible to “outside influences.”
Shawn claims that she and Larry were on good terms and were not headed toward divorce, as Larry had been uncooperative and refused to participate in the divorce proceeding. Importantly she has a clear understanding of Larry’s business dealings, and it would be inappropriate for the Court to appoint Larry Jr. who
“has never been involved in Larry’s career or business, and it would be highly inappropriate to place him in a position of representing Larry’s estate.”
Shawn also objects to Larry Jr. acting as administrator on the grounds of conflict of interest; claiming Larry Jr owes a debt to his late father’s estate for $266,261 originating from a “secret account” through which, Larry made gifts “to various individuals from community property, without her knowledge.”
Shawn claims to have the right to declare the “gifts void and recover” between 50-100% of their value.
Additionally, Larry entered into a post-nuptial agreement limiting his ability to make testamentary gifts to his children. The holographic will would violate a valid post-nuptial agreement.
A court date has been set for March 25.
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