Jerry Lewis Disinherited Most of His Kids in His Will, Left Everything to His Wife

Alex West - Author

Jan. 22 2024, Published 8:46 a.m. ET

Jerry Lewis leaving a press conference on Oct. 16, 1986
Source: Getty Images

Comedian and filmmaker Jerry Lewis made a questionable decision that startled fans at first. In 2017, it was revealed that the star disinherited some of his children when he passed away at age 91.

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Disinheriting your children is relatively simple. To do so, you just have to specify in your will that they aren't entitled to anything you've left behind and that's exactly what Jerry did.

Jerry Lewis, and wife SanDee Pitnick, and daughter Danielle
Source: Getty Images
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Why did Jerry Lewis disinherit his sons?

Of his seven children, five of them were disinherited all of which were his sons. The big revelation hit after the star passed and the will became a public document.

The will states: “I have intentionally excluded GARY LEWIS, RONALD LEWIS, ANTHONY JOSEPH LEWIS, CHRISTOPHER JOSEPH LEWIS, SCOTT ANTHONY LEWIS and JOSEPH CHRISTOPHER LEWIS and their descendants as beneficiaries of my estate, it being my intention to that they shall receive no benefits hereunder.”

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So, not only did Jerry's final action cease any support for his sons, but it also nixed any chance for their children to receive benefits from Jerry's financial legacy. He was very clear about this; a must for wills or else they can be challenged in court. By using the word "intentionally" he truly made a direct point.

Now, this decision might seem shady, but there might be a smart reason for doing this. If Jerry wanted to, he could have set up some trust funds which he designated money towards. Sometimes trust funds have stipulations, but they are private — the public and curious fans probably wouldn't know about them.

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Jerry Lewis with his new bride Sandra Pitnick
Source: Getty Images

More importantly, they are taxed differently as they would, firstly, dodge any inheritance taxes. It also helps keep the numbers out of the eyes of creditors or others.

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There's no indication that Jerry went ahead and did that, though. If he did, we'd have no reason to know. According to the will, his wife, SanDee Pitnick, actually got everything when he died.

He only specifically left out his sons, though, so his other children might be able to benefit from his death. After all, the second line for his fortune was the daughter he adopted alongside SanDee, Danielle.

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 Jerry Lewis, wearing eyeglasses, standing with his arms crossed
Source: Getty Images

It appears the bond between Danielle and Lewis was naturally strong. “I don’t have to do anything for her to love me. She loves me already,” he told Inside Edition. Lewis never even acknowledge his last child, Suzan, in the will for unknown reasons.

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So, how much did SanDee get? The jury is still out and no one for sure knows Jerry's exact net worth other than the family and financial advisors in the family. However, some estimates suggest it could be around $2 million, including his real estate property.

Other celebrities either have or plan to follow Jerry's lead for varying reasons. For example, Simon Cowell plans to disinherit his kids in his will because he doesn't really believe in generational wealth. Similarly, tycoon Warren Buffett pledged to give most of his wealth to charity when he died, rather than keep it within the family.

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