Ronni Chasen is Said to Have Wanted to Change Her Will, Shortly Before Her Death


Chasen, who was not married and had no children, left her brother "any items of my personal property that my brother selects within sixty days of my death." Larry Cohen declined to comment.

Ronnie Chasen Murder
Nightline (12.02.10)

Jane Peebles, an attorney with 26 years of experience in estate planning issues, said the role of the executor is to safeguard the deceased's assets and it is unlikely there was tension in Chasen's relationship with her brother when she gave him that role.

Instead of maliciously omitting siblings as direct beneficiaries of wills, estate owners "may not want siblings in some financial situations to pay additional estate taxes and believe they don't need an additional inheritance," said Peebles.

Chasen also bequeathed specific amounts of money and personal possessions to friends and family members, including the largest amount, $50,000 to her niece, Melissa Cohen. Melissa Cohen declined to comment.

The will also directed a small amount of $10 to another niece, Jill Gatsby. Calls to Jill Gatsby were not immediately returned.

VIDEO: Person of interest commits suicide after he was approached by police.
Hollywood Publicist Ronni Chasen Murder: Potential Suspect Commits Suicide

Peebles said it is not unusual for an estate owner to leave small amounts, such as that which Chasen allocated to her niece, in a will. "Typically when the amount is that small, it's really sending a message to the beneficiary," said Peebles.

Peebles said she could not infer whether there was conflict in Casen's family. She said she would be surprised if 1994 was the last time Chasen touched her will.

"We recommend clients take a look at their plans every three to five years," said Peebles, a principal of the law firm, Karlin & Peebles, in Beverly Hills. "There were many changes in estate tax law in 2001. Anyone with a taxable estate over $1 million would have been urged to check the plan."

Hollywood Whodunit: Ronni Chasen Murder
Hollywood Whodunit: Ronni Chasen Murder

Another estate attorney, Alexis Neely of, said although she recommends clients review their will on an annual basis, it is not uncommon if Chasen did not touch her will since 1994.

"Most people don't want to think about their mortality," said Neely.

The Beverly Hills Police department said it is "actively investigating the Ronni Chasen homicide" and that detectives have received "numerous tips." Police said they received tips that Harold Smith, who had previous burglary and drug possession charges, was a possible suspect before he shot and killed himself on December 1.

The police reiterated their statement about Harris from Friday that "at this time it is unknown if this individual was involved in the Chasen homicide," though they are still looking for suspects.

VIDEO: Police search for a culprit in the Hollywood publicist murder case.
Hunt for Ronni Chasen's Killer

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