Where There’s A Will, There’s A Relative

The legal arguments over world-famous tenor Luciano Pavarotti’s final wishes may well end up as a soap opera played out in the Italian courts.

The U.K.’s Daily Telegraph reported a "new twist" emerging in "the tussle for his estate," claiming the opera singer’s only "hand-written" will appears to have disinherited his second wife.

It could all be academic if there’s any truth in other U.K. tabloid stories quoting Italian reports saying Pavarotti doesn’t have a £250 million fortune and actually died £12 million in debt.

They claim bank records show he had a £7 million overdraft and owed more than £5 million in mortgages on properties in New York, Monte Carlo and his home in the northern Italian city of Modena.

"That the maestro had debts is no secret. In the final years he cut back on shows and had hospital bills," said Giorgio Bernini, lawyer for the star’s second wife Nicoletta, according to the Mirror.

The paper also quoted Fabrizo Corsini, lawyer for Pavarotti’s three daughters from his first marriage, saying his clients would go through the paperwork "with a fine-tooth comb."

All papers agree the surviving relatives are likely to want a closer look at what may or may not have happened to his supposed fortune, with local and international tabloids pointing out Pavarotti was believed to have £14 million in liquid capital.

The hand-written will in the Telegraph story is available from Silvio Vezzi, a lawyer in Pavarotti’s home city of Modena who has reportedly published it under the instruction of Lorenza Pavarotti.

She’s one of the singer’s three daughters with Adua Veroni, whom he married 35 years ago and divorced in a bitter wrangle at the beginning of the millennium.

Vezzi waved the handwritten will on Italian television October 4, prompting speculation that the singer known as "Big Lucy" had fallen out with second wife Nicoletta Mantovani, who was his assistant for six years before they married and had a daughter.

Pavarotti died of cancer in early September at age 71. The handwritten will is the third to have emerged since his death.

It’s allegedly dated December 4, 2006, which would make it the earliest of the three.

So far, it appears to be the only one in the singer’s spidery handwriting.

If it’s taken as being legally binding as the singer’s last will and testament, the split would leave Mantovani with the bare minimum she is due under Italian law – Pavarotti’s holiday home in Pesaro and his half-share of a restaurant and his horse stables.

It would also mean the three daughters from his first marriage inherit his houses, savings and future estate income in Italy and abroad.

Subsequent verified wills leave Mantovani with a far greater share of Pavarotti’s wealth.