By Dana Feldman and Stephanie Wenger
|Anne Heche Homer Laffoon James Tupper. PHOTO: getty (2); Anne Heche/Instagram|
Anne Heche's older son Homer Laffoon has been named general administrator of her estate after a months-long legal battle with her ex James Tupper that began after the actress died following a car crash in August.
The 20-year-old has been vying to take legal control over Heche's remaining assets despite legal objections from Tupper, 57. In court in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Homer — whom Heche shared with ex-husband Coleman Laffoon — scored a legal victory when Judge Lee Bogdanoff named him to a permanent position of power.
Homer's attorney Bryan Phipps issued a statement to PEOPLE after the hearing: "We believe the court reached the correct result this morning, both legally and equitably, and are glad to have this phase of the process behind us. With Mr. Tupper's allegations and objections now resolved, we are hopeful the administration of the Estate can proceed without unnecessary complication."
The judge did issue the caveat that Homer could be removed as administrator if any evidence of fraud or embezzlement surfaces related to the estate. (This proviso seemingly was issued in response to Tupper's claim that $200,000 worth of jewelry has gone missing that Heche owned at the time of their relationship just four years ago.) But up to this point, said Judge Bodganoff, there has been no evidence of wrongdoing.
With Heche's second memoir schedule to released in January and residuals for her acting roles still incoming, Judge Bodganoff noted the estate's value is not set, so he scheduled a future hearing on the matter to address an $800,000 bond on the estate Homer previously requested.
Wednesday's decision comes more than a month after Homer was granted expanded "special powers" as the special administrator of Heche's estate, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Homer was granted permission to "take possession of all the personal property of the estate of the decedent and preserve it from damage, waste, and injury," according to the documents. He is required to move the property into a storage facility and inventory the items within five days of the relocation.
He was also granted the power to protect the interests of Heche in "the publication agreement" of her forthcoming book.
Additionally, Homer is able to receive copies of Heche's financial records and file personal tax returns on her behalf. The documents state that Homer is now able to "commence and maintain or defend" suits and other legal proceedings.
Tupper, 57, previously alleged that Homer "has acted in a hostile manner" towards his half brother and "has refused to communicate with him or his representatives at all."
"Further, Atlas has no confidence in [Homer]'s ability to meet his fiduciary obligations to Atlas," the filing stated, adding that Homer has allegedly not inventoried their mother's belongings, per his agreement with Tupper and Atlas, before they place the items in storage.
Tupper's attorney Christopher B. Johnson previously argued that Homer already had some of the powers he'd requested from the court, which they said "underscores his lack of competence and inability to preserve estate assets."
Johnson repeated those claims in court on Wednesday, claiming "mismanagement" by Homer, but Judge Bogdanoff declared there was no evidence of any malfeasance by Homer, nor any credence to Tupper's claims. (When Homer was named special administrator in late October, the filing indicated that Tupper's objection had been "reviewed and considered.")
Judge Bodganoff added at this latest hearing that he has "encouraged the brothers to talk about things" twice, noting that "Atlas was caught in the crossfire" of the legal battle over control of the estate.
After Homer filed papers to assume control of his mother's estate in September, he and Tupper have been locked in a legal battle. Although Homer claimed that his mother didn't have a will, Tupper said Heche named him the executor more than a decade ago. Homer has since argued that the signature on his mother's purported will is not valid, while accusing Tupper of preventing him from communicating with his younger brother.
The pair has also been fighting for guardianship ad litem of Atlas, with Tupper arguing earlier this month that Homer has "conflicts of interest" in the custody battle for his biological son as it relates to Heche's estate, and that appointing him custody "would actually harm the interests" of Atlas.
Heche died after being involved in a car accident in Los Angeles on Aug. 5. After being in a coma, the state of California declared Heche legally dead
on Aug. 12. She was temporarily kept on life support in order to
prepare her organs for donation. On Aug. 14, her rep confirmed to PEOPLE
she had been taken off life support.
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Anne Heche's Son Homer Laffoon, 20, Named General Administrator of Her Estate