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Jay Leno files for conservatorship over his wife’s estate due to her dementia

Comedian Jay Leno on Friday filed in California for a conservatorship over the estate of his wife of 43 years, Mavis Leno, after she was diagnosed with dementia, according to court documents.

The petition, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and obtained by “Entertainment Tonight,” said that the 77-year-old Mavis “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.”

The court documents said that Leno “has always handled the couple’s finances throughout” their marriage, and he seeks to create a trust for their joint estate that would “ensure Mavis has managed assets sufficient to provide for her care” should he die before her.  

Leno’s estate plan will also provide for Mavis’s brother, who is “her sole living heir aside from Jay.” The couple does not have children.

Jay Leno and Mavis Leno
Jay Leno and Mavis Leno attend the private unveiling of the Meyers Manx electric automobile at Little Beach House Malibu on Aug. 8, 2022, in Malibu, California.

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It’s unclear when she was first diagnosed. A doctor’s report included in the court documents, dated Nov. 28, 2023, describes Mavis’ dementia diagnosis and her symptoms. The doctor wrote that “it is my professional opinion that, due to her condition, Mavis is unable to meaningfully participate in the hearing on the Petition to Appoint a Probate Conservator nor would she understand the nature, force or effect of the hearing should she attend.”

The doctor also checked a box in the report which said that Mavis “lacks the capacity to give informed consent to any form of medical treatment.”

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 9. “Entertainment Tonight” has reached out to Leno for comment. CBS News reached out to Leo’s representation for comment. 

Mavis Leno was a longtime board member of the nonprofit Feminist Majority Foundation, a national women’s rights organization, and the chair of the group’s Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls.

The 73-year-old Leno himself has had multiple health scares in recent years. In November 2022, the former host of “The Tonight Show” suffered serious burns from a gasoline fire while working in his vintage car garage in Burbank. Then, just two months later, he broke several bones in a motorcycle crash.

Leno hosted “The Tonight Show” from 1992 to 2009, and then again from 2010 to 2014, after a short stint in between by comedian Conan O’Brien, who was controversially dismissed due to poor ratings.

In a 2014 interview with “60 Minutes,” on the eve of Leno’s second departure from the show, Mavis came to the defense of her husband.

“It made me angry, because there was this perception that for some reason Jay had decided to give up the show,” Mavis told ’60 Minutes.’ “It was like he gave the show to Conan and then he took it back. That was not what happened, OK?” 


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