“I ain’t afraid of death.” Joan Rivers once told Time Magazine, “I’m in show business. I died a million times.”
Aging. Dying. Death. Concepts no one likes to think about, much less talk about. Of the many fatal tragedies the celebrity world has suffered lately — Lauren Bacall, Robin Williams, and Casey Kasem, to name a few — perhaps none shook people to the core as much as the passing of Joan Rivers.
Even at 81 years old, her death seemed to take everyone off-guard. Except maybe Joan Rivers herself. While on stage for the final time, she told the audience how she could die at any minute. And a few weeks ago, she posted on her Twitter account:
Two Big Brother contestants have had grandparents die this season. I’m a little upset… Cooper [her grandson] just submitted an audition tape.
Joan Rivers Dies At Age 81 – A Look At Her Life
So why was Joan Rivers’ death so shocking? Maybe it was her zest, vibrancy, and attitude Read more...
Elvis Presley earned more than one billion dollars during his career … so why was his estate worth only about ten million dollars when he died? How did things get even worse for his heirs afterwards?
And what would Elvis Presley say about appearing as a hologram?
This is installment #6 of our weekly Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
There can be no doubt that Elvis Presley truly earned his nickname as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. His lifetime earnings topped one billion dollars over his 25-year career — especially impressive considering this came in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
Celebrity Legacies Preview On The Elvis Presley Estate
Some of Elvis’ financial success is attributed to his manager and promoter, Colonel Tom Parker. He helped Elvis secure unprecedented movie deals — paying him top Read more...
When John Lennon of the Beatles was tragically murdered in 1980, his controversial widow, Yoko Ono, took charge of his legacy and his fortune … but where did that leave his two sons? As arguably the most successful songwriter of all time, what did Lennon leave behind?
And what did the King of Pop have to do with John Lennon’s legacy?
This is installment #5 of our weekly Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
He famously sang “All You Need Is Love.” When it came to leaving money for his first-born son, John Lennon must have had that song in mind, because he apparently didn’t believe that Julian needed money. In fact, according to Lennon’s first wife, Julian’s mother Cynthia, the man known as the “cool” Beatle was a cruel negotiator during their divorce. Cynthia says he refused to give more than Read more...
Whitney Houston’s fortune bounced from sky-high to significant debt. What did this mean for her estate? And was it money — or something else — behind Whitney’s ugly legal battle with her “step-mother”?
How exactly does Bobby Brown fit into all of this?
This is installment #4 of our weekly Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
Before Whitney Houston unexpectedly drowned in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub at age 48, on February 11, 2012, rumors circulated that she was in such financial trouble that she was nearly broke. She reportedly died $20 million in debt.
How could that be possible for the singer who signed a $100 million record contract in 2001? And 2001 doesn’t even rank as her most successful year! In 1993, Whitney earned $33 million from The Bodyguard soundtrack and gave birth to her only child, Bobbi Kristina.
Whitney Read more...
So how long exactly does it take to resolve the dispute over the estate of an 89-year old Texas oil tycoon who married a 26-year old stripper and Playboy Playmate? Shouldn’t the case end when both the stripper (Anna Nicole Smith) and her “step-son” (Pierce Marshall, who was 27 years older than she was) die?
And is this really important enough to be heard by the United States Supreme Court, not once, but twice?
This is installment #3 of our weekly Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
While we monitor, write about, and provide commentary for media outlets around the country about many complicated celebrity estates, this one takes the prize. We call it “The Grand-Daddy Of All Estate Battles.” We’ve written several articles about this case so far, which you can read here.
Celebrity Legacies on Reelz
How The Anna Read more...
The initial shock of Robin Williams’ tragic death, apparently from hanging himself, is giving way to reflections of his memory and legacy. Another question many people are asking is what happens next for his family. He was survived by his third wife, Susan Schneider, to whom he was married for three years, and three adult children from his prior two marriages, whose ages range from 22 to 31. There is a realistic fear that Williams’ death left may have left them in financial distress.
In an interview with Parade Magazine in 2013, Williams lamented how he was required to change his lifestyle because of how much he lost in his two divorces (reportedly, $30 million). He said he returned to TV because of “bills to pay.” Williams also admitted to listing his Napa Valley estate for sale because he could no longer afford it.
Robin Williams’ publicist recently said that he was not in financial trouble and his comments were not to be taken seriously. Regardless of whether his publicist Read more...
Who opened the door to battles over the Jim Morrison Estate? Who won … and what did they win when the dust settled? And does drinking your loved one’s blood constitute a valid marriage ceremony?
This is installment #2 of our weekly Estate Planning Lessons From The Stars series, which is based on the Celebrity Legacies TV show for which we provide commentary as the estate legal experts. See other articles in the series here.
Doors front-man Jim Morrison died young at just 27 years of age, in 1971, from a heroin overdose. While his estate had limited cash when Morrison died, the assets in his estate became worth around $80 million.
Jim Morrison’s Estate
Despite his young age, hard-partying lifestyle, and free spirit, Jim Morrison took some steps to protect his estate … sort of. Two years before he died, Morrison created a will. It was a simplistic and poorly-drafted will, but a valid will nonetheless.
At least, it appeared to be valid initially. It left everything to Read more...
We all know about the estates of Michael Jackson and Anna Nicole Smith, right? But what about Elizabeth Taylor, John Lennon, Marilyn Monroe, Heath Ledger, Elvis Presley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr.? This week, the Reelz Channel premiered a new television series called Celebrity Legacies. The documentary series explores a different celebrity each week, discussing their legacies, estates, and what they left behind: Feuding heirs? Mounting debt? Or a golden legacy glittered with fame and fortune?
The premiere episode delved into James Gandolfini. The late Soprano’s star died shockingly in 2013, leaving behind two young children — from two different marriages — and an estate plan that was, well, not exactly perfect.
We appear on each of the 26 episodes of Celebrity Legacies, providing legal and financial commentary and analysis. On the premiere, we talked about how James Gandolfini’s will was initially done as a Band-Aid measure, after his daughter was born. Instead of using a revocable living trust to keep his affairs private and outside of probate Read more...
He may have been a brilliant actor, but Philip Seymour Hoffman had much to learn when it came to estate planning. Reports surfaced last week that the former Oscar winner repeatedly rejected the advice of his attorney and accountant, both of whom advised him to create a trust. He said he didn’t want his three children to be “trust funds kids.”
Instead, he felt their mother — and his longtime girlfriend — would take care of them. He viewed Mimi O’Donnell much like a wife, although he did not believe in marriage.
Sadly, because of Hoffman’s aversion to proper estate planning, his 34 million dollar estate faces a huge estate tax bill and other problems that could (and should) have been avoided if he had listened to the legal and financial advice he was given. Hoffman’s girlfriend and children would have been much better off if he had done the proper estate planning, with a revocable living trust (at the very least).
Philip Seymour Hoffman Didn’t Want Trust Fund Kids Read more...
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Lou Reed was the man who famously crooned, “Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side.” The late lead singer and guitarist of The Velvet Underground — and of course, a musician and songwriter with a successful, decades-long solo career — may have been a bit wild at times. But that doesn’t explain why he would be so careless with his estate plan. This is a man with an estate worth more than $30 million — perhaps substantially more, in fact.
Recent filings with the Surrogate’s Court in Manhattan (that’s probate court, for us non-New Yorkers) show that Lou Reed’s estate has already earned $20,379,169 (give or take a few bucks) since he passed away from liver disease on October 27, 2013, at the age of 71. This is only the income that Lou Reed’s estate has brought in since his death, from his copyright, publishing and performance royalties and other deals put together under the skillful management of his longtime manager Read more...