Hartman Had Made Wife Sole Beneficiary


“NewsRadio” star Phil Hartman left everything to his wife, who killed him and then herself last week at the couple’s Encino estate, according to copies of the couple’s wills filed Tuesday for probate in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The court documents stated the value of the Hartmans’ personal property at $630,000--most of it the equity in their $1 million-plus Encino home. Because both parents are now deceased, the couple’s estates pass on to their children--Sean Edward, 9, and Birgen Anika, 6.

The papers, drawn up in March 1996, indicate that the Hartmans placed a high premium on education. The couple stated in their wills that the children would start to cannot begin to receive final distribution of their inheritance when they either graduated from college or reached age 25.


The Hartman children, clad in their pajamas, were at the family’s rambling, rustic-style home when their mother shot their father execution-style, apparently as he slept. She then fled the house distraught and incoherent, leaving the children behind as she sought solace from an as-yet unidentified male friend. She then returned home, police said, locked herself in the bedroom with her husband’s body and shot herself to death as officers arrived shortly after dawn.

The May 28 murder-suicide shocked the couple’s friends and relatives. Reports soon circulated about Brynn Hartman’s problems with cocaine.

If, as some reports have indicated, the marriage was troubled to the point that Phil Hartman was considering leaving, that was not reflected in his will. He named his wife as executor, beneficiary and trustee for their children. He left her his literary estate--the rights to copyrights, trademarks and royalties from his body of work in the entertainment field.

The executor of the literary estate was identified in court papers as Carol Yumkas of Beverly Hills. She will control all rights to his work, life story and public image. Hartman was best known for his role in the sitcom “NewsRadio,” and as a regular for eight years on “Saturday Night Live.” He also provided voices for the popular animated series “The Simpsons.”

Brynn Hartman’s sister, Katherine K. Wright, of Eau Claire, Wis., was designated the couple’s first choice as guardian of their children, and they left her $50,000 for her service. The wills also state that Wright and her husband can tap into the children’s trust to buy a larger home and hire help while raising them. The couple named Brynn Hartman’s brother, Gregory C. Omdahl, as executor and trustee of the remaining estate, the house, boat, cars, artwork and other assets.

Phil Hartman requested in his will that his remains be cremated and scattered over Emerald Bay at Catalina Island. Brynn Hartman was more private about her wishes, communicating them to her attorney.

Funeral arrangements, set for this week, are private. A hearing on the estate was set for July 1.