Jay Leno Files for Conservatorship Over Wife’s Estate

By: ScreenGawk Staff | Published: Feb 03, 2024

The former long-serving host of “The Tonight Show,” Jay Leno, has been forced to file a petition in an attempt to become the conservator of his wife’s estate.

Leno argues in the wake of his wife’s decreased cognitive abilities due to dementia, he needs to obtain a conservatorship to organize a plan for the future of her estate.

Leno Forced to File for Conservatorship

The comedian has been married to his wife, Mavis, for over 43 years.

Jay Leno interviews Billy Crystal on “The Tonight Show” in 2014

Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Recently, he filed a petition with the Superior Court of California, hoping to be named the sole conservator of his wife’s estate (via WBAL TV).

Comedian Hopes to Create an Estate Plan

With his wife’s evident cognitive decline, Leno hopes the court will allow him to establish a long-term plan.

Jay Leno photographed at BritWeeks Luxury Car Rally in Los Angeles

Source: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

According to reports shared by MorningStar, Leno argues an estate plan is necessary, and his wife “would execute [it] if she had the capacity to do so.”

Leno’s Wife Left Unable to Create a Plan

In Leno’s petition, which was shared by “Entertainment Tonight,” he says his 77-year-old wife’s condition leaves her unable to create an estate plan (via CBS News).

Jay Leno pictured alongside his wife Mavis at an HBO Premiere

Source: Barry King/FilmMagic/Getty Images

She “has been progressively losing capacity and orientation to space and time for several years,” and her “current condition renders her incapable of executing the estate plan,” Leno wrote.

Leno Plans to Create a Trust

The court documents reveal Leno plans to create a trust to “ensure Mavis has managed assets sufficient to provide for her care” in case he dies before her.

An older woman receives care from a nurse who calls her home

Source: Freepik

Leno says in the documents he “has always handled the couple’s finances throughout” their long marriage.

Plans for the Future

According to the petition, Leno wants to create a trust that unifies his and Mavis’ properties.

A man sits down with his lawyer to discuss legal matters

Source: Freepik

As the couple doesn’t have children, their assets would be spread among family relatives. This includes his wife’s brother, who is Mavis’ “sole living heir aside from Jay.”


Estate Aims to Provide Mavis With Future Care

A portion of the petition explains that the sole purpose of the trust is to ensure future care for Mavis.

A nurse dressed in blue scrubs takes care of an older woman

Source: Freepik

“The conservatorship estate will not be funded with any assets and is being established for the sole purpose of filing a petition for substituted judgment to ensure Mavis’ estate plan is established and that Mavis’ future care is provided for under the terms of a living trust,” the statement said (via MorningStar).


Expert Shares Opinion on the Situation

According to various legal experts, including Brian Tully of Tully Law Group, the whole situation could have been avoided with preemptive estate planning.

A lawyer dressed in a blue suit speaks with a co-worker in a shared office

Source: Freepik

“All of this boils down to this: not having an estate plan,” said Tully (via MorningStar).


Doctor’s Note Included in Court Documents

Paperwork from a Californian physician, Dr. Hart Cohen, was also included in the court documents.

A doctor wearing a white lab coat sits down at a wooden table to speak with a client online

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A portion of the doctor’s notes includes a section dedicated to why Mavis should not attend the court hearing set for April 9.


Mavis’s Doctor Explains Delicate Situation

In the statement, Dr. Cohen explained that summoning Mavis to the hearing could result in unnecessary stress and confusion for her.

A doctor writes down notes on a clipboard as he’s seated at his desk

Source: Freepik

“It is my further opinion that if Mavis were ordered to attend the hearing, such mandated attendance would cause her undue stress, confusion, and anguish, and therefore, her presence at the hearing would be detrimental to her mental and physical health,” Cohen said in a statement.


Leno Has Multiple Scares of His Own

Over the last decade, Leno has had multiple health scares of his own.

Jay Leno is pictured driving a vintage vehicle in Los Angeles, California

Source: OCE/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

While working in his vintage car garage in 2022, a fire broke out, which led to him sustaining severe burns. Less than two months after this, he crashed his motorcycle and broke several bones.


Long-Serving Host of “The Tonight Show”

Leno served as the host of “The Tonight Show” for over 17 years, from 1992 to 2009. He later returned after his successor, Conan O’Brien, received negative reviews.

Jay Leno joins Jimmy Fallon on an episode of “The Tonight Show” at Rockefeller Center

Source: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

After the second spell, Mavis spoke in an interview about the drama surrounding the situation. “It was like he gave the show to Conan, and then he took it back. That was not what happened, okay?” she said, per CBS News.