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No financial problems: rep He had Parkinson’s: Williams’ wife

LOS ANGELES, Aug 15, (Agencies): Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease at the time of his death, his wife said Thursday. In a statement, Susan Schneider said that Williams, 63, was struggling with depression, anxiety and the Parkinson’s diagnosis when he died Monday in his Northern California home. Authorities said he committed suicide. “Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety as well as early stages of Parkinson’s disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly,” Schneider said.
Schneider did not offer details on when the actor comedian had been diagnosed or his symptoms.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Department, which said Williams hanged himself, is conducting toxicology tests and interviews before issuing a final ruling. Lt Keith Boyd of the Marin County Sheriff’s Department did not return phone calls and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment on Schneider’s statement.
Williams’ death shocked fans and friends alike, despite his candor about decades of struggle with substance abuse and mental health. With Parkinson’s, Williams faced shouldering yet another challenge.
Parkinson’s disease is an incurable nervous system disorder that involves a loss of brain cells controlling movement. Tremors, sometimes starting out in just one hand, are among the early symptoms.
It can also cause rigid, halting walking, slowed speech and sometimes dementia. Symptoms worsen over time and can often be treated with drugs.
Actor Michael J. Fox, who has long had the disease and is known for his efforts to fund research into it, tweeted that he was stunned to learn Williams had early symptoms.
“Stunned to learn Robin had PD. Pretty sure his support for our Fdn predated his diagnosis. A true friend; I wish him peace,” Fox tweeted.
Pop star Linda Ronstadt revealed in 2013 that she had Parkinson’s and said the disease had robbed her of her ability to sing. Boxer Muhammad Ali, the late radio personality Casey Kasem and the late Pope John Paul II are among other well-known figures diagnosed with the disease.
Parkinson’s affects about 1 million people nationwide, 6 million globally. The cause isn’t known but genes are thought to play a role.
There is no standard test for Parkinson’s; doctors rely on symptoms, medical history and neurological exams to make the diagnosis.
Dr Tanya Simuni, director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center at Northwestern University’s medical school in Chicago, said patients often react to the diagnosis with surprise and despair.
Depression is often present even in early stages and can sometimes precede tremors that help doctors make the diagnosis, Simuni said.
It’s important to emphasize that not everyone who is depressed has Parkinson’s or is likely to develop it, she said, especially given “this tragic case” involving Williams in which the two diseases occurred.
Meanwhile, Robin Williams “had no financial problems” that might have contributed to his apparent suicide, his spokeswoman told TheWrap on Wednesday.
“Robin had no financial problems,” Mara Buxbaum, Williams’ longtime publicist and the president of ID-PR told TheWrap. She added, “We should be blessed to have Robin’s financial status.”
Shortly after Williams’ death was confirmed Monday, online gossip publications jumped to potential money issues of the late actor, something that his publicist said simply do not exist.
“I understand the desire to understand the ‘Why,’” Buxbaum continued. “It’s not going to happen. The better thing to do is to try to understand severe depression. That isn’t going to be answered, and you can speculate all you want.”
Still last year, Williams told Parade magazine that part of the reason for his return to TV via CBS’ “The Crazy Ones” was to have a steady gig and pay the bills: “The idea of having a steady job is appealing. I have two choices: go on the road doing stand-up, or do small, independent movies working almost for scale.”
“The movies are good, but a lot of times they don’t even have distribution,” he added. “There are bills to pay.”
“My life has downsized, in a good way,” Williams continued. “I’m selling the ranch up in Napa. I just can’t afford it anymore.”
“The Crazy Ones” was canceled after just one season; Williams earned an estimated $165,000 per episode.
Buxbaum says that in that interview her client was expressing his appreciation for stability, and was otherwise joking about a comfortable financial status.
“Robin often said things in jest, and sometimes it just doesn’t translate in print,” she said. “There were plenty of times over the years that Robin was offered to do TV,” Buxbaum told us. “Robin wanted to do ‘The Crazy Ones’ because of (show creator) David Kelley and the material. That’s why he took the show ... not because he needed the money.”
Another topic that he often cracked wise about were his divorces, Buxbaum said.
When asked by Parade if he lost all of his money in the two splits, Williams said: “Well, not all. Lost enough. Divorce is expensive. I used to joke they were going to call it ‘all the money,’ but they changed it to ‘alimony.’ It’s ripping your heart out through your wallet. Are things good with my exes? Yes. But do I need that lifestyle? No.”
On reported trust funds and the financial status the late comic and actor leaves behind, she concluded, “We will not comment on specifics other than to say Robin’s family is amply taken care of.”
According to Forbes, Williams’ net worth was an estimated $50 million. Public real estate records show that Williams’ Napa Valley mansion, which rests on 653 acres and is named Villa Sorriso, has been on the market since April for $29.9 million. Williams also leaves behind a 6,500-square-foot waterfront home in Tiburon, Calif., valued at roughly $6 million.
The two properties have mortgages that totaled $7.25 million as of 2011. Doing some math, that means Williams left behind real estate with equity of around $25 million, subject to a Villa Sorriso sale.
“Presumably there are no probate issues because he had good legal advice and had a fully funded living trust,” legal trust expert Bruce Givner said, adding: “Presumably there will be no interesting legal issues because his trust provided that the assets would be held for his wife and children.”
“Whether there was estate tax planning we probably won’t know because his estate planning documents will never become public,” he continued. “The only way they will become public is if he died without a will or trust; with only a will and not a living trust; or if there is litigation.”
Givner is no stranger to high profile Hollywood clients, having represented Phil Spector all the way through jail and probating Robert Blake’s estate, among many others.

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