Click here for the details.
In a 5-4 decision the Court ruled that the Texas Probate Court and not a bankruptcy Court had the jurisdiction to make the decision. This is a blow to the heirs of Anna Nicole Smith and should result in her not receiving any further inheritance unless they find a different ground to apply on.
When he prepared his will having been married 3 times and having a child from a prior marriage and 3 from his current wife he wanted to make sure that there was no Probate Litigation, disputes or other contesting of his wishes and that the property just passed to his wife for her life then to the children. As a result he provided in his will that if anyone named in the will sought to contest its terms unsuccessfully that they would only receive $5. His phrasing was "I give to such persons so contesting or objecting the sum of FIVE DOLLARS ($5.00) and no more."
Interesting to note that while no contest clauses had been valid and all types of no contest clauses had been enforeceable in California for a while the law permitting this was changed effective January 1 2010 with when new Probate statute §§ 21310–21315 was passed and signed into law repealing the prior statute. There are now restrictions regarding what types and situations a no contest clause is enforceable. Also his wife failed to survive him so it now passes all to his children in equal shares.
A provision in a will purporting to penalize any interested person for contesting the will or instituting other proceedings relating to the estate is unenforceable.
Source regarding provision in Jackie Cooper's will and photo TMZ Jackie Cooper the poison pill clause.
The Probate Attorney Blog previously discussed the approximate value of the Elizabeth Taylor estate being around $600 million to a billion dollars and there may need to be some probate or trust litigation involving Elizabeth Taylor given that she was married 8 times and had children from multiple different husbands as well as being a very charitable person.
Beauty product giant Elizabeth Arden has already said they'll keep selling her still-popular fragrances which made $77 million in 2010 alone and there are numerous other opportunities, like film re-releases and merchandising that the estate could profit significantly from.
The entertainment reporter relayed a source with knowledge of the situation said "The one thing she didn't do was understand that, much like Elvis and Michael Jackson, she might be worth more in death. "This is what has already started to cause friction between family, business managers and the many charities that meant so much to Elizabeth."
The two-time Oscar winner has been worth a lot of money for decades. In 1996, when she divorced her last husband, Larry Fortensky, documents showed her net worth was $608.4 million. The New York Post reported that during the 1990s, Taylor earned about $2 per second, or about $63 million per year. Her perfume, White Diamonds, has never stopped selling.
It is a shame to hear that the fighting and prospect of potentially having some probate and trust litigation regarding the rights to her image and future profits is already being discussed within a week of her death. This was a big issue with the estate of Martin Luther King the children had many disputes and costly litigation regarding various options. An article view by clicking here discusses the litigation they went through also involving the intelectual property issues and after death money of their icon father.
March 29, 2011 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous, Estates of Rich and Famous | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The 2002 will, which the appeal judges said was indisputably valid, devised the estate to the foundation that she established with her husband,Teddy in 1988. The foundation would award Chinese prizes of worldwide signficance, similar to that of the Nobel Prizes, according to the judgment.
The estate dispute described by the Probate Litigation Attorneys as the world's biggest probate dispute was similar to a will contest Nina Wang had with her father in law regarding her husband Teddy's billions and control of the company.
The couple turned a Shanghai paint and chemical business, started by Teddy’s father, into a property developer with extremely valuable properties.
The case is between Chinachem Charitable Foundation Limited and Chan Chun Chuen and the Secretary for Justice, CACV62/2010 in the Hong Kong High Court of Appeal.
The prior courts opinion can be found here.
source Kelvin Wong and Debra Mao Nina Wangs ex lover loses bid for 12 Billion dollar estate.
The Wife of former Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee and Presidential Candidate John Edwards was released today and showed that she provided for her children to share equally in her estate. She did not provide anything for her husband who she separated from but never divorced following his admission of infidelity and fathering another woman's child. In North Carolina as in Florida and most states a spouse has an elective share which means if they are not provided to a certain extent in the will they can elect to take a certain portion such as 30% (in Florida) regardless of what the will says. Some states this can be as high as half of the estate. Given John's wealth and public relations though it is extremely unlikely that he would make this election to not have his wife's wishes respected which would also essentially take money from their children. Additionally the will was written just days prior to her death from cancer so if the facts were different where it was not going to his children otherwise or he did not worry about the bad public relations he could potentially challenge the lack of mental capacity at the time she executed the will. If she failed to have mental capacity at the time it could be considered invalid.
TMZ reports that she had filed a claim for over $45 million which the court rejected but indicated their child will be provided for and she could seek some money if she showed that some property was hers and provided documentation but they checked a box saying they agreed to give her $0 and rejected over $45m. Shortly prior to his passing and since the estate and he have had disputes with her regarding a number of issues and estate litigation and probate disputes are likely going to continue for a while.
Malcolm Mclaren died in April of 2010. He had been the manager of the punk / alternative rock group the Sex Pistols and other bands, a performer, and businessman in the United Kingdom where he will be buried.
He had a rocky and relatively absent relationship from his son Joe Corre although Joe was at his side upon his passing. Joe was not even given his name as he was unwanted and Joe's mom was told to have an abortion since Malcom did not want to be a father or think he would be a good one and his mother did not care for Viviene Westwood who would become a punk fashion designer and businesswoman and gave her money to abort who changed her mind on the way there then they named the child after his mother as a joke.
For most of their lives they did not have much to do with one another according to articles although at times that changed.
Malcom was in his 60s and had a girlfriend who was in her 30s that he was with for 12 years and lived with for 9. He did a deathbed will to provide for her. However his mental capacity while he was in the hospital dying of cancer was questionable and he had no prior wills so if that will was the product of undue influence it would pass intestacy which meant the girlfriend would receive nothing in his sole name without a beneficiary designation and it would pass to his son regardless of his intent.
Joe Corre is a millionaire himself having been a part founder of agent provocateur a lingerie company but said he felt an obligation to bring the will contest and make it known whether his dad had capacity at the time the will was made. He said he was also acting on behalf of Malcom's brother who was also interested.
A will can leave a persons property to anybody they want for any reason they want. However the person who makes the will must be of legal age being 18 or an emancipated minor, have the document properly executed for example 2 witnesses and a notary with the testator signing then the others watching them do so and being there and each paying attention to the others signing and witnessing. They must also be free of undue influence where another pressures them to make provisions they would not have otherwise have done and have mental capacity.
While mental capacity also known as testamentary capacity is a reasonably low standard the will can be successful. The person must know who the natural object of their bounty are (their heirs such as their children) the approximate or general extent of the property in their estate not thinking they have $10 if they are a millionaire, able to understand their actions and its effect on their estate plan and related issues.
While this case is outside the US the lesson is the same as if it would be in Florida that people should designate who they want to receive their property and if they do not have beneficiary designations hold property jointly with right of survivorship or provide early enough in their wills when they clearly have capacity it allow an opening for others to challenge the capacity and validity of the will. The state or country will decide who gets his property through intestacy if it is determined that there was no capacity.
See Daily Mail UK Alison Boshoff September 17 2010Manager of Sex Pistols will is contested.
The above is taken directly from TMZ.com June 10 Shannon Price I was Gary's Common Law Wife. Problems for her though:
The above is taken directly from TMZ.com June 10 Shannon Price I was Gary's Common Law Wife.
Problems for her though:
Since they were divorced in 2008 that would invalidate the 2007 will though even if it were valid at the time. Utah like Florida provides that if a person is divorced after making the provisions in the document that the will is void with respect to financial provisions to a spouse at the time who was then divorced.
Also bringing up the prior will which knocked out all prior wills is a silly waste of time as unsigned wills mean nothing and have not validity so that is out.
The fact that they were still having intimate relationships as mentioned in the petition is also not relevant to whether the 1999 will is valid or not or whether the supposed 2007 will is valid. Comical that is not even part of the argument for being common law spouses but the fact that they fought on occasion. That seems more frequent among ex spouses. In Florida the common law marriage was abolished as of January 1 1968. It appears Utah is one of around 11 states which currently recognize common law marriage for that time period. Whether they were holding themselves out as husband and wife though would be an issue. She would have to show they were living together, both able to give consent and get married and they were representing themselves as husband wife. They had gotten divorced then publicly went on a divorce court on tv that does not seem like they were holding themselves out to be married.
Additionally she should not be concerned re the joint bank accounts as those would likely pass to the surviving joint tenant if they were genuinely jointly held property at least in Florida that is the rule although Utah may have different law.
She should provide a joint tax return for 2009 and the sealed document showing that she supposedly owns the Utah home from their divorce.
Todd Bridges his brother Willis in the show also claims to have a secret will expressing Gary's intent. Until Willis show's what he talking about with the will she will have further proving to do and it seems there will be a further probate battle which has not been resolved yet despite the brief will which the Probate Attorney Blog linked to in prior post and the parents saying they were not going to fight the personal representatives wishes.
Another legal issue though which in theory could come up is a Pre Termitted spouse if she is able to prove that her and Gary had held each other out as husband and wife, cohabited and each had capacity to form intent and get married. If all happened after their divorce and after the last will was done in Florida and in most states so likely Utah she would receive an intestate share which since he did not have any children would be the entire estate.
Whether that will was actually his handwriting and complied with Utah law will be another issue.
There are still a number of unresolved questions in these disputes.
TMZ.com reported tonight that David Beresford-Redman has petitioned the probate court to open the probate case and validate the will of his murdered daughter-in-law.
The probate petitioner his son Bruce Beresford-Redman is now charged with the murder of Monica -- is named in Monica's 2008 will as an executor of her estate also known as the personal representative of her probate estate.
Monica's sisters have said they will challenge the validity of the will.
Under the will, David and his wife Juanita would inherit Monica's interest in a house she owns. The remaining property goes to Bruce.
As previously reported by Probate Attorney Blog.com in Florida if a person is merely proved to have more likely than not intentionally and unlawfully brought about the death of another they are unable to inherit anything from the estate. However in California where the will contest is going to occur and the probate case was filed in the LA Superior Court Probate Division the standard is higher and requires a felony so there likely needs to be a conviction although it appears that the sisters are going to seek to contest the provisions going to the father as well or his being personal representative. As far as personal representative the position may be to argue whether he could be fair and impartial as the son is the primary beneficiary currently but that will be challenged but the provisions to him should pass to him unless either he was involved with the murder in some way which seems highly unlikely or there is another legal claim. She had mental capacity though and undue influence is not often made for a case of a woman of her age. While the evidence has appeared to show that the son likely did murder her and he will not receive his share if that is proven to be the case while the writer of this blog is a Florida Probate Attorney and not licensed to practice law in California most slayer statutes do not bar relatives of the slayer who are named in the document and had nothing to do with the wrongful act from inheriting so it will be interesting to see what the legal arguments are in this case. The father had told the children that their mom died in a car crash when they got them as temporary guardians instead of telling them the truth than barred them from going to the funeral and there is likely to also be continuing guardianship litigation regarding who gets the children and what is in their best interests given how their mom passed.
See June 4 2010 TMZ Murder Suspects Dad Opens Probate Case
As Yahoo News reports from 2010 to 2050 the costs of Alzheimer's is expected to increase 6 times going from $172 Billion annually to $1.08 Trillion annually.
It is projected instead of 5.1 million with the disease there will be 13.5 million.
Driving the soaring costs will be that a projected 48% are projected to be in the severe attention category which will mean attention around the clock.
On a related note relevant to the Probate Attorney Blog this will also likely result in a lot more case of Probate Litigation and Estate Litigation as there will be more people with lack of testamentary capacity or with diminished capacity and subject to undue influence there will be more situations in which it would be appropriate to hire a will contest attorney or estate dispute lawyer to protect a beneficiaries right to an inheritance and see that the wishes of the deceased are truly carried out. Also with trillions of dollars passing on through the baby boom generation to their children and grandchildren it is likely to expect more disputes and contests in probate court to occur.
June 04, 2010 in Alzheimers, Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
TMZ.com reported today that the actor John Wayne's family is battling over the millions in his estate. His daughter Aissa Wayne wants to sell her share of the estate and another child Ethan Wayne will buy her out but needs to come up with a fair market price to do so. They are unable to agree on what that is.
He says $10,704,000 while she says 15,400,000. The case is being heard in LA County Superior Court.There have been quite a few celebrity Probate Litigation, Will Contests, and Trust Disputes recently in the LA County Superior Court Probate Division.
See June 4, 2010 TMZ John Wayne's Kids Duking it Out over Estate.
When Anna Nicole Smith died in Hollywood Florida in February of 2007 and the highly publicized funeral trial was presided over by Broward County Probate Judge at the time Larry Seidlin it was believed that her daughter and sole beneficiary of her estate would be a multi millionaire. Anna Nicole had been awarded multi millions in a long running trust and estate litigation through probate and several other courts since the passing of her billionaire elderly deceased husband. However as the most recent court held that her estate would not get a penny from that probate dispute and the trust and estate litigation would end with a total loss for her estate her daughters father now is selling some of her property to provide for her financial security in the future. He points out that they have enough to get by on but that she needs private schools, extra security and has other expenses beyond a typical child so he is seeking to get additional money to set aside in a trust for their child. Also some of it will go to charity which she set up after her son passed away.
The ABC news article about what Larry Birkhead is doing to provide for their daughter (and charity) following the Estate Litigation defeat click here.
Melvin Simon was around the top 300 richest people in the Forbes 400 (# 278 when he was 79 years old). He died around 82 years of age. His estate was worth around $1.3 billion dollars.
Dana Hunsinger of the Indystar.com provided an update of the probate and trust litigation. The judge dismissed part of the case in which his daughter Deborah Simon stated fraud as the claim but was not specific enough in nature. It is allowed it to be refiled. The Probate court Judge failed to dismiss the estate dispute claims against her stepmom Bren Simon which argued undue influence and lack of mental capacity.
While I am not familar with Indiana Probate case law or statutes in Florida can't really merely rely on presumptions to prove an undue influence case against a spouse however she appears to be seeking to prove it directly and using evidence of lack of capacity or diminished capacity.
She indicates that not only were the documents changed just months before he died and was a significant change from prior wills which then gave her stepmom hundreds of millions more while vastly reducing what was going to charity or to herself and her siblings she also indicated that her father Billionaire Mel Simon was suffering from significant neurological problems at the time which impaired his memory, understanding and communication. It is undisputed that he had difficulty even signing the documents although his spouse Bren says that is from Parkinsons and that he signed freely, voluntarily and knowingly.
As I tell clients who inquire about Florida Probate Litigation Information a person can leave there property to anybody they want for any reason they want. However, that is subject to them having mental capacity and there not being evidence of undue influence that they were coerced into doing so and the result was the other persons influence and not their own. The article does not provide many details of undue influence although based on the time line and the capacity issue along with the large change in disposition it seems questionable that he even formed an intent to change the document and undue influence is often combined with diminished capacity which was clearly present here so this will be an interest case to see where it goes. When discussing a potential challenge to contest a will or trust and dispute the intent I do like to see some of the facts that Deborah appears to have here he had a previous plan which she was provided significantly more for, then there is the alegation of significant neuroglogical problems and he was not even able to sign and he was somewhat elderly as well as died just months after signing the document so the timeline looks good. The facts will need to be established to prove the case though was it his intent to provide more for his spouse and did he know what he was doing and act voluntarily will ultimately decide the issue. However with this much money involved and a reasonably good timeline but with it being the spouse and difficult to win unless they can do so on the capacity issue or have direct facts proving undue influence they should settle it would seem in both sides best interests. While sometimes principle is important and it may be worth fighting until the end in a case like this both sides can be sufficiently provided for in a settlement and factoring in the time and saved expense in court costs and attorneys fees it may be a smart move. Anna Nicole Smith estate suing the estate of her deceased billionaire husband and opposed by the estate of his son shows how extended cases of this size can become if each side has a fight to the death mentality. All the initial participants literally did in that case and it is still going on after 15+ years and numerous appearances in multiple different types of courts. She has been awarded $474.5 million around around 89 million and most recently nothing but her side has said they may seek to be heard a second time by the US Supreme Court on a different issue.
On a final note back to the Melvin Simon case it is best that his daughter brings the challenge regarding lack of capacity or diminished capacity and potential undue influence since frequently talking with and seeing her father she could likely present any facts which existed to the court more easily than a charity who may not have had much contact with him. However if a representative of the charity were to know of his condition at the time of execution and chose to join the suit they would be an interested party given the millions of dollars less they would be receiving under the revised will and trust.
A federal Judge has denied the estate of Anna Nicole Smith $300 she claimed her ex husband who died at the age of 90 an oil billionaire had promised her. J. Howard Marshall who had a $1.6 billion dollar estate and gave her millions in gifts during his lifetime has been contested for 15 years. The trust and estate litigation has been disputed by each side in probate court, bankruptcy court, the Supreme Court and numerous venues with a series of conflicting results with a bankruptcy court awarding as much as $474.5 million another court cutting it back to $89.5 million.
The federal judge essentially determined they had been wasting their time the past decade. He cited that a 2001 Texas jury verdict said that the money was not intended as a gift and there was no undue influence or fraud. During that court fight as both parties were present and had the opportunity to present their case then the jury spoke the district court should have held to the findings of the Texas Probate Court and that should have precluded other courts (such as the bankruptcy speaking to the factual findings or legal conclusions). Although the bankruptcy court had made their ruling first in 2000 and Anna Nicole's attorney sought to argue federal court should therefore control the courts found the case was initially in probate court and their was a full trial at the probate court level and the bankruptcy decision did not have jurisdiction but was merely an advisory opinion.
In 2002 a district court cut back the 2000 bankruptcy verdict in favor of Anna Nicole but this federal court ruled that given the 2001 probate court case the 2002 judge should have dismissed the case instead of merely cutting the amount to $89.5 million.
His family said that lies about E Pierce Marshall have finally been put to rest.
In 2006 the US Supreme Court had ordered a federal appeals court to reconsider its ruling against Smith.
It is an important decision from a jurisdictional issue. Had the bankruptcy court been able to prevail and take precedence over the probate court it would have provided a 2nd chance to rush off to another venue when it appeared a case was going poorly and create jurisdiction shopping. Here there was already a probate case going but then she went to a different jurisdiction and was able to get them to take the case on different grounds of a supposed bankruptcy but essentially just a tactic to retry the case in a different context and court. This decision sends the message to determine facts regarding the probate and trust issues in the probate court and to then go with the factual finds of that court and not drag it through to numerous other types of courts to get another shot on the same factual determinations.
Anna Nicole was 26 when she married the 89 year old J. Howard Marshall who was 89 after meeting her a couple years earlier when she was a stripper. They were married for only 14 months.
One of her attorneys Howard Stern who was also a past boyfriend was to be paid a contingency fee and will now also receive nothing absent another reversal. She had been his only client and he had made no money for years as mentioned during her estate. At this point the son of J. Howard Marshall who was initially litigating against Anna Nicole died and his estate continued to fight then she did as well and even her son died so the only heir was her daughter who is a minor but she will receive nothing based on the decision. The son's family hopes this finally concludes 15 years of disputes regarding the estate. It has been an interesting case to follow for jurisdictional and other reasons. An article discussing his not receiving anything can be found here.
This ABC news article about Estate Litigation disputes discusses Probate Litigation, Will Contests and various challenges and family feuds from Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Brooke Astor and a number of other trust and estate litigation issues going on in probate courts throughout the country. Click on the link to read about the probate and estate dispute litigation and the reasons the other believed caused the disputes and challenges to the wills, trusts, guardianship designation or control over the estates.
September 08, 2009 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
June 30, 2009 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
Law.com reports that a history of litigation concerning Michael Jackson will carry over to his estate which will face an extended amount of estate litigation and need to deal with extensive disputes and contests as he had dealt during his life.
As this Blog reports the actress / model from the thriller video joined the Litigation party of suing Michael Jackson shortly prior to his passing. She was seeking further compensation for the video as the director had also sued his production company seeking to litigate the amount that he should have received which was a dispute between himself and Michael Jackson.
Money Magazine also reported regarding how much the concert was intended to make and how there was already litigation which may occur from the tour.
Billboard.com referred to Michael Jackson as the king of litigation a play on his nickname of the king of pop and mentioned that some of the ongoing lawsuits that he has will now be handled by his estate who will have to continue to pursue or defend a number of various disputes. Among them include a 75 year old African singer suing despite having already reached a settlement for a portion of a song in 1983 that used borrowed lyrics. He then allowed Rihana to use a song which had that portion of the song so they were both sued in France last February. Given that medications may have played a role in his passing it is also interesting to note that he was once sued for not paying a prescription drug bill which was in excess of $100,000.
He was even sued in late December of 2008 by a woman claiming to be Billie Jean Jackson (although her name is actually Laron Poulis) arguing she was Billie Jean from his 1983 hit Billie Jean not my lover but she in fact was and that they were married and she was the mother of Blanket. This time she sued for $1 billion on behalf of the daughter and joint custody. She had sued him decades previously claiming 3 children of hers were his as well but lost. He is also being sued by concert promoters and according to the Billboard article has been sued by people connected with Wall Street as well as Sotheby's. Given these lawsuits, the custoday issues with the children and debts expected at around $500 million and assets including some Beatles songs worth around a Billion dollars and no will or estate planning documents have been found it will be an interesting and challenging estate to unravel and resolve all of the disputes involved.
June 29, 2009 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
John Eligon in Fight for Astor Estate mirors 50 years ago has written an interesting article about the prior will contest litigation from 1959. The comment in the final paragraph by attorney and friend of Brooke Astor - Louis Auchincloss said that Brooke Astor eventually settled with John Jacob Astor VI who accused Brooke of undue influence and his father of having of lacking testemenary capacity at the time the final will was executed for $250,000 because it would have cost less than the attorney fees to handle the will contest despite the fact that there were 26 different revisions of her husband Vincent Astors will none of whom mentioned John Jacob. It further came out in trial that the reason for that Brooke testified was Vincent found John Jacob Astor VI to be "the most useless member of society and despised him as a slacker".
Interesting to note that the US Department of Labor Inflation Calculator shows that $250,000 back around 1959 would be worth $1,831,958.76 so they felt it would cost nearly $2m to defend the estate litigation case back then.
It also brings up a couple other issues. One being that he likely would have had a difficult time prevailing since there had been 26 prior wills and since he was not mentioned in any he would have had to prove that there was undue or lack of capacity during all of them. Preparing multiple wills over a period of years can be a helpful strategy in order to minimize the chance of success of a will contest.
In this case Brooke received $2 million, nearly all of her husbands property and possessions and income from a $127 million trust fund that was part of the estate so there was plenty to settle with but surprising that his not being mentioned in any of the 26 prior wills the attorney would think the attorney fees alone would still reach nearly $2 million just to defend adjusted for inflation. Possibly she should have litigated to see that her husbands wishes were carried out.
Another issue is having to expose dirty laundry of the family and damage that it can do to family dynamics. It is an unfortunate aspect of probate litigation and could not have helped relationships for her to have testified in court that he was considered the "most useless member of society". Apparently unlike prior Astors with his name he was not a productive business person but was someone who constantly partied and got the family name in the tabloids as a result. Sadly this is why many wealthy families do not remain as wealthy over time as future generations can become lazy and a sense of entitlement if the proper estate planning and life values are not put in place and passed down to subsequent generations.
May 17, 2009 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
James Brown died Christmas day 2006 and has been generating a significant amount of estate and trust litigation in probate courts ever since.
Fiduciary misconduct and breach of trust back in 2007 in which a trustee accused of improperly taking trust funds for over $350,000 and putting in their account just three days after the passing of the singer. He resigned and paid the funds back after attorneys representing the children and grandchildren petitioned the court and sought his removal and other advisors.
As Mary Bridges mentions in her article Torturted soul there were 21 trust and estate litigation attorneys who claimed to be lead counsel when judge wanted to see just lead counsel in chambers.
The total amount the three advisors left in charge of the estate are aledged to have improperly taken is $14 million and the will attorney who drafted the will and trust is now serving 30 years for murdering a strip club manager.
As this article by findlaw points out it is important to update a persons will and trust upon any significant change in circumstance such as the birth of a child and a marriage.
In the estate of James Brown the singer and "godfather of soul" as the Findlaw article points out he had prepared a will 10 months before the birth of his child with his 4th wife and 12 months prior to marriage of 4th wife. He wanted to question whether it was his child after his passing and did not want to provide for the son or the wife. However most states have pre termitted spouse and children provisions. These provide that if the document were before the marriage or birth of the child they are treated as if it was an intestate estate in most circumstances. Although this was not a Florida case the Florida Pretermitted statute for children is 732.302.
The estate was also seeking to challenge the validity of the marriage to his wife who was left nothing.
Without a prenuptial agreement she would have been entitled to an Elective Share in most states including Florida if the case had jurisdiction here.
As the Wealth Bulletin points out James Brown trust estate worth $100 million and is being sued by a former publicist who questioned whether a proper formal trust was actually setup and that they should have the authority to distribute to the needy people for charitable purposes as they saw fit instead of having 47.5% passing through a charitable trust and other advisors distributing it. She claimed she was reponsible for setting it up and was it was just the two of them so she should now have control. It contained the rights to famous songs such as I feel good which Brown had recorded. She sued in Chicago.
This is in addition to five of six children named in the will suing arguing undue influence of former advisors who were in a confidential relationship with him and coerced him into taking actions to benefit them by creating the charitable trusts.
Details of a proposed estate settlement have emerged with the five children possibly getting 25% with the 4th wife and the child she supposedly had with him receiving 25% and the remaining 50% going to his trust.
The estate and trust do not even have many remaining assets but with the song rights at stake and ability to earn after death the trust and estate litigation continues. Forbes has reported Kurt Cobain and Elvis Pressley for example made $40-50 million a year each in 2006.
It will be interesting to see the final result of all the trust and estate litigation to see what the final results of all the many lawsuits, disputes and litigation in probate court turn out and the various settlements that may be reached.
May 10, 2009 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
As Cincinatti.com reported Ohio judge Steve Martin ruled that where there is no formal request to seal a court record and the proper procedures seeking to close the file are not pursued an estate settlement is a matter of public record despite the desire of both sides to make it a private matter.
There was an estate litigation going on regarding a $300+ million estate which both sides sought to only speak to one another and the judge and settled prior to a trial in order to avoid publicity then stopped speaking when others had walked in the room but conducted the estate settlement hearings in open court and never formally requested it be sealed so when a local publication requested it be made of public information and available the judge allowed and determined it not to even be a close call.
Lesson learned do not speak in open court without formally requesting and being informed that the estate settlement would be a private matter. The judge presiding over the estate case is allowing until Tuesday for the estate litigation attorneys to appeal his ruling otherwise a transcript of exactly what was said.
For more info about the case and a link to the article click on the link below.
May 09, 2009 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink
More than $40 million could be at stake in a newly filed lawsuit over the estate of famed litigator and former City Councilman Edward Masry.
Masry died Dec. 5 after a long illness. His litigation law firm, Masry & Vititoe, represented plaintiffs in the environmental litigation made famous in the film “Erin Brockovich.”
Now, the spoils of lawsuits settled by Masry are themselves the subject of a civil action. The full article from the Pacific Coast Business Times can be found here.
Since Attorney Masry has a daughter who is also an attorney his estate can distribute his ownership in such firm to her if desired in his will or other estate planning documents otherwise a non attorney cannot own an ongoing share of a law firm.
On April 21, two of Masry’s children filed a lawsuit seeking to force James Vititoe, his former partner, to account for his share of ownership in the firm of Masry & Vititoe, which the plaintiffs said in the filing could be more than $40 million. The two children want Vititoe to expedite a transfer of Masry’s interest to his daughter, also an attorney employed by the firm.
The lawsuit states that the defendants were unwilling to recognize the younger Masrys as beneficiaries of Masry’s estate, despite a Nov. 23, 2005 change to Masry’s will. This created a will dispute with the attorney for the daughters hoping they will not need to fight a will contest and defend against a will challenge in the estate case. That changed revoked all interest from Joette Masry—Ed’s second wife—and named the two children as trustees. The childrens litigation attorneys were optimistic they could just get the accounting and resolve the estate dispute without having to proceed with an extended estate litigation with the attorneys having to fight over a will contest and accounting issues.
His former law partner, James Vititoe did not return calls for comment and his office directed all calls to him. The firm received a $40 million dollars in attorney fees in the litigation against Pacific Gas and Electric of which the movie Erin Brockovich was based.
The $40 million figure from the civil lawsuit was merely what may be owed upon getting the accounting.
Having buy-sell agreements or agreeing as to the manner in which an accounting will be done to set a value. Also not making will changes shortly before death when there may be undue influence or diminished capacity and disputes among interested parties is a helpful way to avoid probate litigation and successfully pass on the property. Also business interests can be held in a trust to avoid probate with another attorney daughter she could take direct ownership of his portion of the firm not merely the profits thereof.
May 13, 2006 in Estate Litigation and Will Contests of Rich and Famous | Permalink