Anne Heche’s Ex James Tupper Reprimanded by The Judge as He Battles Homer Laffoon Over the Estate
Tupper has a 13-year-old kid named Atlas with Heche and Laffoon; Atlas’ older sibling is opposed to Tupper’s petition to be appointed guardian ad litem.
Anne Heche‘s estate is still the subject of ongoing judicial proceedings.
On Tuesday, James Tupper, Heche’s ex-husband, and Atlas Heche Tupper, their 13-year-old son, appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom to continue their battle with Heche’s other son Homer Laffoon over who will handle the actress’s assets and be declared the guardian ad litem of Atlas.
Judge Lee Bogdanoff spoke to attorneys Christopher Johnson (representing Tupper) and Bryan Phipps (representing Homer Laffoon) for a total of fewer than 15 minutes. Phipps was physically there in court, but Laffoon, who is 20, had to use Zoom.
At the outset of the session, the judge stated bluntly, “I take assuming the situation has not been settled.” Tupper, 57, and his son had not yet gained entry to Heche’s flat to collect belongings, such as clothing and Atlas’ computer, as agreed upon by all parties and determined by the court.
After hearing that Atlas had been denied entry, the court asked Phipps why he had not been allowed to retrieve his stuff and “maybe to look around in memory of his mom.” Prior to providing entry, Phipps said there were still some unresolved issues, such as an inventory of personal property. Photographs of specific objects were taken, and Tupper was informed that they will soon be ready for pickup, according to the discussion.
Tupper told the judge that the goods hadn’t been picked up yet and that the incident had only occurred the day before. The court pressed Phipps for an explanation, saying, “Yesterday? You forgot to mention just one minor point.” Phipps, though, continued to insist that the incident occurred two weeks earlier.
The judge then approved that Tupper and Atlas may pick up the goods, but he did not permit them access to the residence in general. “Quickly enter his place and steal his belongings. If you’d rather take a stroll, that’s OK too “In the words of Bogdanoff.
In his ruling, the judge made it plain that each brother has an equal share in their parent’s estate. According to Johnson, the actual question is who will administer the estate, which has sparked a heated debate.
The judge was extremely blunt, stating that it makes no difference whether or not Homer has a job or has been in touch with his brother. “Here, we are not choosing nominees or ranking participants. So that I don’t end up being a letdown as administrator, I need to investigate whether or not he should be fired. That’s dishonest, it’s a conflict of interest, and it’s a terrible thing to do “As Bogdanoff put it.
Then Johnson jumped in, saying, “the issue is the way he’s treated Atlas so far,” claiming Laffoon hasn’t been talking with his brother and hasn’t allowed him into the apartment.
Although the judge acknowledged the lack of tangible assets, he or she did highlight Anne Heche‘s intellectual property and the possibility of creditors. The judge’s response to Johnson’s claim that Homer lacks qualifications was, “Ignorant gentlemen, in the Golden State of California you can still hold the office of the administrator. Ok? You can be an administrator even if you can’t read, didn’t go to college, or both. Ok? It doesn’t matter if he’s from Generation Z or not; maybe he’s just a chill dude; either way, he’s qualified. Although he may not be the best communicator, that is not necessarily a deal breaker. Neither of those things applies.”
In response to Johnson’s argument that Laffoon had no right to shut Atlas out, the judge grew irritated and said, “You’re not making any “He rekeyed the door locks. Sad news: someone has died abruptly and unexpectedly. It’s not really clear what he can and cannot do. People everywhere are pondering this mystery.”
Then he informed Johnson he didn’t think much of his efforts. “We’re not trying to be the greatest at making selections. If he is qualified or not, it is my job to say so “These words.
Tupper, who was present at the hearing with his son and attorney, was shaking his head and the judge was visibly displeased. “Can you explain your head shaking? This is a really rude gesture. Please don’t ever return and shake your head at me again. Gentlemen, you need to stop reaching into your pocket. Do you want to make a comment?”
Tupper, who was clearly shocked, said, “Sure. When it comes to protecting him, I don’t think his big brother has his back. Two months have passed and we still can’t move into the flat.”
After claiming that Homer is treating Atlas as though they were enemies, James Tupper said he had already purchased a new computer for Atlas. He continued, saying that Atlas is “going through grief and this is complicated everything” and that he was concerned that the strain on their relationship would do irreversible damage.
Atlas remained silent and close to his father throughout the entire hearing, giving the impression that he was overwhelmed with grief. The next court date for the group is November 30.
Laffoon’s lawyer released the following statement to PEOPLE following the hearing: “We are pleased, though not shocked, by the court’s decision this morning to reject James’ request to serve as guardian ad litem for Atlas. While we wait for the court to rule on Homer’s petition at the next hearing, he will continue to work tirelessly as Special Administrator to manage the Estate in accordance with his legal authority.”
Heche’s son with ex-husband Coleman Laffoon, who goes by the name “Laffoon,” opposed Tupper’s appointment as guardian ad litem for the 13-year-old on Tuesday, arguing that James Tupper has “conflicts of interest” and that his appointment “would actually hurt the interests of [Atlas].”
A copy of the application was acquired by PEOPLE, in which Laffoon argues that Tupper “is disqualified from serving as the minor’s guardian ad litem based on many real and potential conflicts of interest.”
Tupper has been a father figure to both Laffoon and Atlas, but Laffoon says this could cause tension if Tupper is “ever obliged to side with one child against the other.”
One legal expert thinks Tupper may not have the standing to request guardianship of Atlas on his behalf.
In an interview with PEOPLE published last week, family law expert Atousa Saei provided insight as to why Laffoon would have the upper hand in litigation involving Heche’s assets.
Ultimately, “I honestly think that Tupper is going to be kind of faded out of this whole issue,” Saei told PEOPLE. “In my opinion, his only true stake in this situation is as the father of a minor who stands to inherit from his mother. There’s no way the court will agree that he has the legal authority to handle the estate as its executor.”
What’s more, “I also doubt that he will be appointed as the [guardian ad litem] in this case by the court. Remember that the court might simply appoint a third party who is impartial if it finds it necessary to appoint a GAL. No, it doesn’t have to be him.”
Tupper had already filed documents requesting for Laffoon to be removed from his role as temporary executor of Heche’s estate a day before Laffoon did so.
According to his legal documents, which were obtained by PEOPLE, he argued that a bonded, neutral, private professional fiduciary would be a more appropriate administrator of the estate “in order to preserve family harmony and a healthy, brotherly relationship between ATLAS and HOMER.”
Since the Men in Trees co-stars were no longer together at the time of Heche’s death, Laffoon sought that Tupper be cut off from handling her estate. He did so on the grounds of a “conflict of interest,” which he defined as the possibility that Heche’s estate might sue to prevent him from receiving any of the estate’s assets.
“[Laffoon] brings up something intriguing where he says, ‘Had they been married, during the divorce process, that would’ve been addressed, but because they weren’t married, it’s like an oversight on her end where she just failed to alter the beneficiaries of some of her accounts,'” Saei elaborated. Since “he’s got the money now,” the estate may have to sue him, which presents a conflict of interest for him to serve as guardian ad litem.
After it was thought that Heche had died without a will, an email from 2011 surfaced in September thanks to Tupper. Laffoon claims the will is invalid because it was not executed in front of two witnesses as required by California law.
Saei thinks this will is invalid based on his professional experience. She argued that there were other ways in which the piece fell short. It’s not only that it’s digital; there’s no genuine signature, no witnesses, etc.
On August 5, Heche was killed in a violent vehicle crash in Los Angeles. On August 12th, Heche’s legal death was officially recognized by the state of California after she had been in a coma for some time. The decision to keep her on life support until her organs could be harvested was made. Her representative confirmed to PEOPLE on August 14 that she had been taken off life support.